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Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Posted by Didi Davis on

Here is a cozy, warming dish with garlic as the main act, the classic Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. It is a dish from Provence that was popularized by James Beard and Richard Olney. Instead of the traditional stewing/braising of the dish, we changed it up a bit by roasting the bird, surrounded with full heads of plump garlic. You may roast the garlic whole, as it is here, so the garlic maintains it's shape. Or if you would rather peel the garlic before serving, that is fine too, but it will fall apart in the cooking juices; not a bad thing at all. Either way, the sweet garlic is spread on hearty chunks of bread.

4 to 6 heads of garlic, this depends on size of the heads and garlic appetite of the eaters!
Olive oil
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, excess fat remove, rinsed, and dried well with paper towels
Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon or so of ground ginger, cinnamon, or allspice, optional
2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine or a mix
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place garlic heads on their sides and cut off a thin slice from the top of the heads to expose the garlic cloves. Discard the tops. Rub the garlic heads with some olive oil and place in a baking dish.

Fold the wingtip under the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil and place in the dish. Season inside and out of the chicken with sea salt, pepper, thyme, and spice if using. If you would like a more compact bird, tie the drumsticks together. Turn the chicken upside down, surround with the garlic heads, and roast 30 minutes. Turn chicken breast-side up and continue roasting, basting several times with the lemon juice or wine and pan juices, for another 45 minutes or so until the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with the tip of a sharp knife.

Transfer the chicken and garlic to a platter and let rest 10 minutes or so. Reduce the juices in the dish while the chicken rests. Carve the chicken into pieces, pour the juices over the garlic and chicken, and sprinkle the dish with some parsley if you like. Serve each person a head of garlic; if still in the head, the cloves are easy to remove from their shell. Serve with bread to sop up the juices. Mash the garlic in the juices or spread on the bread. 

Recipe and Photograph Copyright Deirdre Davis 2016
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