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Jenise

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Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jenise » Tue May 07, 2019 2:06 pm

Yesterday I took Amanda Hesser's collection of favorite recipes from the New York Times off the shelf and had Bob pick out a chicken recipe for dinner. He went with the Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. (It was actually his second choice, his first, a spicy Kerala-flavored BBQ'd chicken, required marinating and we didn't have that kind of time. We'll have that tonight.) This is a very interesting recipe that completely upended my idea of what this dish was supposed to be.

Long ago I did make one version of a recipe by that name--years ago when it was having a bit of a rage--a stove-top 30-40 minute preparation that was tasty enough but I never thought to make it again.

The dish I made last night was James Beard's original, circa 1960 and bore no resemblance, both in method or intent, to the other I made. The other was a flavorful but reasonably quick dinner, something you'd scoop over rice. I recall that the cloves were peeled and fried off separately. James' recipe is about the magic of long-cooking (90 minutes) and unpeeled garlic to be eaten interactively with soft French bread, wherein you dip the bread in the fabulous cooking juices and squeeze the cloves onto it.

Per Amanda, he apparently wrote two versions. The earliest one called for Cognac instead of vermouth and for the lid to be pasted shut with a flour and water mixture. The second skips that tedious step in favor of a mere covered casserole and vermouth. I went with the latter and pared it down from three layers of 16 pcs of chicken to a more manageable single layer of six thighs but was otherwise fairly faithful to method* and intent.

OMG. First of all, the flavor. The celery-onion layer under the chicken left the familiar territory of chicken soup flavors and acquired a more important and harmonious exotic flavor from the vermouth, fresh tarragon and nutmeg--none obvious or traceable after the long cook--which I used the full complement of instead of reducing when I reduced the quantity of chicken. We're talking half a cup, a tablespoon of chopped fresh and a few gratings respectively, none of which was out of line for six pieces of chicken.

And then, though we had no instructions to do so, I served the chicken with the juices in shallow bowls and we found ourselves shredding the chicken to combine with the onion-celery mixture and scooping wads of it onto the bread. Heavenly. True French country cooking at its best, and perfectly paired with an 06 red Burgundy from Chandon de Briailles.

*About "fairly faithful to method". A place I deviated was the requirement to coat each piece of chicken in oil before adding it to the pot. Adding that kind of fat to skin-on chicken made no sense to me. Instead I cut the fatty edges off each piece, leaving just a top mat that would add flavor and respond well to broiling to brown (also not in the recipe) after the initial hour and a half bake, and drizzled just a little olive oil over all before putting the lid on.

Words don't seem adequate this morning to explain how much I loved this. Make that, WE loved this. Bob swooned no less than I over every bite. THIS is a dish I need in my life. It will join that very small handful of foods I make again and again and crave when we go too long without it.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Paul Winalski » Tue May 07, 2019 2:21 pm

Jenise wrote:The earliest one called for Cognac instead of vermouth and for the lid to be pasted shut with a flour and water mixture.


This is the method traditionally used in North Indian "dum" cooking. The food is assembled in the cooking pot, the lid is sealed with a dough mixture, then the vessel is slow-roasted. The dish is done when cracks form in the dough seal and start letting off steam.

-Paul W.
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Jenise

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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jenise » Tue May 07, 2019 3:44 pm

I didn't know that! I have seen it elsewhere in old-time French cooking. I was wondering if it was because inexpensive materials meant lids were light and generally didn't fit tight enough. No worries for the All-Clad casserole dish I used.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Matilda L

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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Matilda L » Thu May 09, 2019 12:17 am

Jenise, this sounds wonderful. I have never made this dish, but after reading this, I will have a try. I know the Francophile will love it. He's a big fan of slow cooked chicken.

When we were travelling in Peru, we came across garlic paste made by squeezing out the contents of slow-roasted garlic cloves. It was delicious spread on bread and washed down with a cold beer. Cooking chicken "40 Cloves" will recapture some of that.
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jeff Grossman » Thu May 09, 2019 1:29 am

Jenise, it took some serious looking to find a real copy of this recipe. Lots of people claim to publish Beard's original but then you see it has no onions and the cloves are peeled.... But I did find it and, as with Matilda's in-house Froggy, we also like stewed chicken around here so I'll give this a whirl sometime soon.
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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jenise » Thu May 09, 2019 12:57 pm

I can add the recipe to this thread. I meant to, in fact, but the book was downstairs and I was up here so I settled for waxing poetic about the meal I'd loved so much just to get started.

Jeff, we actually found that the skins were quite edible. Some we squeezed, some we didn't. Be sure to go with light and airy French bread, crusty outside and poofy within, cut about 1" thick because that's what it needs to hold up under the weight of what you'll scoop onto it.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jenise » Sun May 12, 2019 8:47 pm

Here's my version of the recipe:




2 big stalks celery cut into long strips (I went with 3 inch lengths and would recommend it)

1 onion, cut in half and slivered

40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

1 heaping tablespoon of fresh tarragon, chopped

3 sprigs parsley (Jenise note: if you have it, no big deal if you don't)

8 pieces of chicken

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 c dry white vermouth

oil

French bread, the kind with the puffy soft middle, warmed and cut 1" thick



Heat the oven to 375F. Cover the bottom of a heavy casserole (or dutch oven kind of pan with a tight fitting lid) with onions, celery, garlic cloves, tarragon and several dashes of nutmeg. Trim the chicken pieces of excess fat, salt and pepper each piece, and layer over the vegetables. Pour the vermouth over the chicken and drizzle with about 2 tblsp olive oil.



Cover the casserole tightly. Add a layer or two of aluminum foil if your lid is lightweight or not tight fitting. Bake for 1.5 hours without removing the cover. Remove the lid and run the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes to color the chicken skin.



Serve direct from the casserole. James Beard's directions at this point are for you to squeeze the garlic cloves onto the bread and spread it. The Jenise option: shred the chicken with two forks so that the meat and pan juices etc all meld together, and scoop this on your bread.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jeff Grossman » Mon May 13, 2019 12:23 am

Thanks, Jenise!
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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jeff Grossman » Mon May 20, 2019 11:15 pm

OK, made this yesterday, although did not get to taste it until today. (I live a whirlwind social life, you know.) I pulled out just a leg and two cloves.

Delicious. The chicken has a texture almost like confit, rich and velvety. The garlic skins are definitely not edible but the insides are six shades of maghogany brown and great spread on bread w or w/o added chicken. There is quite a bit of fat and other juices congealed n the cocotte... maybe soup dumplings are in the offing for next weekend. ::smiling soup dumpling icon::

I used a lot more chicken than Jenise, white wine instead of vermouth, and, of course, fennel instead of onion. When I get a taste of the vegetable base I'll report back one more time.

Thanks for the great idea, Jenise!
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Re: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by Jenise » Tue May 21, 2019 10:57 am

Good job. I want this again. Should make it for my neighbors. They've just found out that she has hemachromotosis, if I got the word right. Her blood is producing too much iron. She should be at 50 and she started out at like 950. She has to give a pint of blood every two weeks and meanwhile she's precariously barely above anemic. It runs in families of Irish descent. No more red meat. In fact, no more a lot of things. This dish would be great for them.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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