Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Poulet aux Quarante Gousses d'Ail
In this classic French dish, succulent chicken bathes in a rich, golden broth. All those cloves of garlic turn creamy, mild and spreadable in the slow oven braise. Be sure to have lots of crusty French bread nearby to sop up every last drop.
Check out the recipe series Why Did the Chicken Cross the Globe? for more about this recipe.
1 4-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces (or 8 bone-in, skin-on pieces of your choice)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt & ground black pepper
1 head of garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled (usually about 20 cloves; if you want a full 40 cloves, use 2 heads of garlic and double the recipe)
½ cup dry white wine or dry French vermouth
¾ cup Basic Chicken Stock or lightly salted broth
About 8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus more for garnish if desired
About 3 sprigs parsley, plus more chopped for garnish if desired
2 bay leaves
Optional (but strongly encouraged): 1 additional Tablespoon unsalted butter to enrich the sauce
1. Generously season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Choose a Dutch oven or other heavy pan with a tight fitting lid than can later be put in the oven. Put the pan over medium-high heat and add the butter and olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle position.
2. When the butter has completely melted and the pan is hot, add some of the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down. Work in batches to brown the skin of all the chicken pieces, resting them on a plate as you brown the next batch. Do not allow the oil to smoke.
3. When the all the chicken has finished browning and has been removed from the pan, toss the unpeeled garlic cloves in the hot oil for a minute or two, allowing them to brown slightly and become fragrant.
4. Pour the vermouth into the pan and use a wooden spatula to scrape the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the liquid simmers and reduces by about half.
5. Add ½ cup of the stock to the pan, reserving the final ¼ cup. Add the thyme, parsley and bay leaf, and briefly stir to combine. Add all the chicken pieces back to the pan along with their juices, resting them skin side-up on top of the other ingredients and positioning light meat pieces (such as breasts) on top of the other pieces if they don't all fit in one layer.
6. Put the lid on, briefly allow the sauce to come back to a simmer, then slide the pot into the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
7. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the pot to a serving platter, along with the now-very-soft garlic cloves. Cover with foil to keep warm.
8. Pour the sauce into a degreasing pitcher or small dish, straining and discarding the herbs. Skim the fat from the sauce and pour it back into the pan. Add the final ¼ cup broth and bring the sauce to a boil over medium high heat with the lid askew. Remove the lid and cook at a strong simmer for about 5 minutes to concentrate the flavors. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt and/or pepper if needed.
9. Turn off the heat and add the final Tablespoon of butter if using, swirling it into the sauce. When fully incorporated, pour the finished sauce over the chicken and garlic. Garnish with thyme sprigs and/or chopped parsley and serve with lots of crusty French bread to dip in the sauce and eat with the softened garlic.