Chicken with 40 Cloves
This is one of Bo and my favorite "nice" dinners. By "nice" I mean better then meatloaf and not cooked often enough. Really though, it's so easy to make, and now that I've figured out a version with chicken pieces as an alternative to a whole chicken when you're in a bit more of a rush? Well, it's pure gold! Keep this is the back of your mind for company too, it looks quite impressive with no effort past the initial 10 minutes on the stove top!
Also, do NOT be scared by the name, even if you're not a garlic person. The flavor added to the chicken is so mild and delicate because the garlic turns sweet from slow roasting in the braising liquid.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1hour 10 minutes (chicken pieces) or 1 hour 40 minutes (whole chicken)
1 whole chicken (whole, or cut into 8 pieces. you can also just buy chicken thighs or breasts, bone-in, skin on)
4 large garlic heads worth of cloves, peeled (this will net you around 40 cloves)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup chicken stock (sub water if you don't have stock on hand)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F and generously sprinkle your chicken with salt and pepper on all sides.
In a dutch oven over medium-high heat melt the butter together with the olive oil until searing hot. Add your chicken and brown on all sides (about 3 minutes per side). Remove chicken to a plate.
Drain all but 1 tbsp of accumulated liquid from the pan, then add garlic cloves and cook for a couple of minutes, until starting to become fragrant but not browning.
Turn off the heat and add your chicken back to the pot, on top of the garlic. Pour the chicken stock and lemon juice evenly over the top of the chicken, then add the thyme sprigs. Cover with the lid and bake until the thickest part of the thigh registers 180°F (a whole chicken will take about 90 minutes, chicken pieces about 45 minutes).
Let the chicken rest on a plate for ten minutes, tented in foil, before carving.
Note: Do not throw out the garlic from the bottom of the pan after cooking. If you do this I will have to come to your house and call you nuts! Slice up and lightly toast a baguette, then spread the soft, sweet roasted garlic cloves on it. Or, mash some up and make a quick vinaigrette out of it. Or, mash some up and mix with some extra virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and Italian seasoning, then dip some bread in it. Your options are endless.
The only option I won't let you have is to throw it out!