Thursday, November 1, 2007

chicken with forty cloves of garlic

green beans and garlic

There was a period a couple years ago when Alex was traveling a lot for work and I hated every single second of it, even–quite brattily–the parts where he got fancy rental cars and stayed in “Heavenly Beds” (which he still does not shut up about, even today) and got to eat awesome meals and expense them. What can I say? I haven’t lived by myself in a lot of years and all of those windows that flood our apartment with light during the day are scary as hell at night, especially you read stories about someone trying to break into a friend’s apartment through the skylight. I slept terribly.

One Friday night when he was supposed to get in by eight from LA, I decided to make a big, huge “welcome home!” meal with homemade challah and chicken dish I had always wanted to make because how could it not be the very best thing in the entire world? Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. I can’t remember which recipe I used, however, but it was a big disappointment. The chicken had the quality I hate, dryness, and the garlic cloves that I had expected to be softly caramelized and oozy were bitter and greasy. Plus, the recipe had been an elaborate pain, fussy steps and in the end, completely not worth it. (Don’t worry, the girlfriends I had over and I got very drunk on red wine before Alex got home–typical–so it in no way ruined our evening.)

40-something cloves of garlic

If only I had had this recipe! I took one look at it in the New York Times yesterday, I and immediately had to make it. Plus, Alex isn’t traveling or even working at the same place anymore, so I had the advantage of coming home to him with one gigantic pile of garlic skins on one side of him and 42 peeled cloves on the other, and a plume of garlicky air everywhere else.

Me: Oooh! Thank you baby! But didn’t you see at Garden of Eden where they sell them already peeled?
Alex, a little horrified: They sell them already peeled?
Me: Yeah, right by the salads and chopped vegetables and [watching him eye all of his hard work] you know, let’s pretend this conversation never happened.

Anyway, this recipe–especially if you can locate some already-peeled garlic–is a cinch with a capital C. We ate it with couscous and steamed green beans, in possibly the most traditional dinner I have cooked in eons. It was a good night and, even better, I slept like a baby, with my baby.

chicken with forty cloves of garlicchicken with forty cloves of garlic

* So, I can’t do NaBloPoMo this year, despite the fact that it was so much fun last time. It’s just not going to happen, no way, uh-uh, can’t do it. No matter how sad it makes me, not even trying is less crushing to me than failure. Pathetic but true.

But I do have 30 recipes I was hoping to try to this month. Let’s just leave it at that.

One year ago: Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
Adapted from “Bistro Cooking” by Patricia Wells via NYTimes 10/31/07

Yield: 4 servings.

1 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
About 40 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned broth.

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place a deep, nonreactive skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and add oil and butter. When fats are hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces skin side down and cook until skin turns an even, golden brown, about 5 minutes. Work in batches, if necessary, and carefully regulate heat to avoid scorching skin. Turn pieces and brown them on other side for an additional 5 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Bury garlic cloves under chicken to make sure they settle in one layer at bottom of skillet. Saute, shaking or stirring pan frequently, until garlic is lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add wine and stock, scraping bottom of pan.

3. Cover and continue cooking until juices run clear when a thigh is pricked, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve chicken with garlic and pan juices and, if desired, rice or sauteed potatoes.


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