Sunday, October 19, 2008

a chicken in every pot

Last week, my friend MAS posted a photo of the chicken she was serving at a dinner party. She put me in mind of my own Romertopf clay cooker that gets used infrequently. I cook almost exclusively in clay in Mexico; that's just the way they do it. I decided to drag it out and roast a chicken for dinner. I leafed through my recipe book and found my favorite Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Off I went to the super, loaded up on ingredients, and set to work.

The recipe calls for pearl onions but I couldn't find any, so I used small yellow onions, cut in quarters. The marinade calls for thyme; I'm not a thyme fan so I omitted it. The biggest chore in this recipe is dealing with the garlic. Each clove has to be peeled and it took about 20 minutes to do all 40 cloves. Some years ago my Mother gave me a very handy gadget for accomplishing this in seconds, but it is at the beach house, alas. It's a flexible rubber tube, about 1" in diameter, 4" long. You put the garlic clove into the tube, roll it around on the counter top and the pressure breaks the hard shell on the clove and it slips right off.

What I ended up doing was laying the flat side of a paring knife over the clove and giving the blade a smart smack with the heel of my hand. That broke up the shell, didn't smash the clove and worked just fine.

Next I made the marinade in a large plastic freezer bag, sealed it up and mushed it around to combine the ingredients. I let that sit for 15 minutes to mix the flavors.

I put all the chopped veggies into the bag to marinate for awhile.

The clay pot has to be "bathed" before being used, at least the first time. But I haven't used it in so long I decided to do it again. The bottom and top get immersed in water for 15 minutes.

Then it was time to put it all together. The chicken goes into the pot surrounded by all the well-seasoned-by-now vegetables. The chicken is rubbed with the left-over marinade, gets a dusting of salt and pepper, and is ready to go into a cold oven. I added a splash of white wine here.

After an hour and a quarter I took the cover off to let the chicken to brown. I had sauteed some mushrooms and tossed them in the pot. I basted the chicken with the accumulated juices. In another 15 minutes, this succulent, flavorful, and beautifully cooked dish emerged from the oven.

The veggies were perfectly done, the garlic cloves nutty and creamy, and juices flavorful and rich. All of that, a salad, a luscious Viognier will make you a lovely Saturday night dinner. And it was also lots of fun. The Patient does the lion's share of cooking around here so it's nice for me to get into the kitchen every now and then.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic


* 2 Tbsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp crumbled rosemary
* 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
* 1/4 tsp crumbled sage leaves
* 2 Tbsp lemon juice
* 40 cloves garlic, peeled
* 3 carrots, cut into chunks
* 6 small red or new potatoes, quartered
* 1/2 pound pearl onions, blanched and peeled
* 1 whole large frying chicken (4 to 4-1/2 pounds)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Soak top and bottom of 3-1/4-quart (3.25 L) clay cooker in water for 30 minutes; drain.

Combine olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sage, and lemon juice in a large zip-top bag. Squish to combine. Add garlic cloves, carrots, potatoes, and onions. Seal bag and turn until all vegetables are coated. Let sit 10+ minutes. Scoop out the vegetables (reserving the marinade) and place them around the outer edge of the clay cooker, leaving room for the chicken in the center.

Use the remaining marinade to coat the chicken, rubbing it into the skin. Place the chicken in the center of the clay cooker, breast-side up. Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with salt and pepper. Cover. Place in a cold oven and set temperature to 475 degrees F. (250 degrees C.). Bake until chicken is tender and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 1-1/4 hours. Remove cover, baste, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes until chicken is crisp and brown.

Carve chicken and drizzle with pot gravy. Serve with the whole garlic cloves and vegetables.


At 6:26 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

Yeah! Those (green) garlic tubes are available at Williams-Sonoma, or at least they used to be. I bet your fingers smelled divine for a few days, correcto?

At 9:29 PM, Blogger The Fevered Brain said...

If you want to get rid of the garlic smell on your hands, rub them across the surface of your stainless steel sink, stove,fridge. Works like a charm. Trick I learned from my mother-in-law. Same with onion smell. If you don't have that sort of surface, well, too bad . . .

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Sam said...

oh my god this looks SO good!! I'm going to make this on wednesday, I've decided. I was going to make a chicken anyway, but this looks great.

Can I make this in something that isn't a clay cooker? I don't have one and I doubt my mom would buy one for me to make this.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger The Fevered Brain said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger The Fevered Brain said...

Yes, Sam, you can make it in any heavy Dutch Oven style cooker. Just lower the temperature to 375ยบ. Good luck, and let me know how it comes out. Enjoy!


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