Ah, Citizens – this is one of my favorite dishes, both because I love garlic and because it perfectly demonstrates the philosophy of TFD: take a classic recipe and tweak it without violating the spirit of the original.
In the 1950s and 60s, it’s no exaggeration to say that James Beard helped to revolutionize American cooking. Beard loved to astound his students with the classic Provençal recipe of Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.
Given the sad, bland state of American cuisine in the 1950s, calling for forty cloves of garlic in a single recipe was pretty much the revolutionary equivalent to joining the Communist Party. 😉
Of course, people soon realized that roasting the cloves in their skin made them buttery, mild and absolutely delicious. Needless to say, the dish became one of the most beloved French recipes to enter the American recipe canon.
Interestingly, 40 clove chicken also eventually became a popular Passover dish, with Jewish chefs saying the forty cloves represented the forty years of wandering in the desert.
In my version, I use not one, not two, but three different garlic types! Garlic, roasted garlic and the Korean black garlic that is slowly heated over a month to caramelize in the skin. It has a flavor reminiscent of garlicky balsamic vinegar and is utterly addictive!
If you don’t have access to black garlic, just use roasted garlic instead. It will still be delicious! I do provide a source to buy a lot of it in the recipe – it keeps a very long time and once you try it, you’ll use it A LOT, trust me!
The aroma of using all 3 types of garlic is intoxicating and my use of many herbs, lemon and sherry really brings this recipe’s flavor profile to a whole new level! 🙂
Give it a try, Citizens – you won’t be sorry! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 chicken, about 3½ pounds
Freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves (fresh, not dried, if possible)
1 head of black garlic, cut in ½ crosswise – buy it from Amazon here
1 head of roasted garlic
5 sprigs of thyme
½ cup butter
6 peeled black garlic cloves
30 (40 if you’re bold!) cloves of garlic, unpeeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 to 10 slices country-style bread, toasted or grilled
Some sherry vinegar or use your favorite type
For the gravy:
1 ¾ tablespoon butter
1 ¾ tablespoon flour (or more if needed)
1 ⅓ cup Chicken stock
⅓ cup Sherry
1 tablespoon of crème fraiche (optional)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375º. Wash the chicken, pat it dry and rub the inside and outside with salt and pepper. Place ½ lemon, the halved black garlic head, 1 bay leaf and ½ of the thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley into the cavity of the chicken. Place the remaining herbs in a pot just large enough to hold the chicken.
Place the butter, peeled black garlic, roasted garlic pulp and the leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme into a bowl. Season, then mix together to form a roasted black garlic butter. Loosen the skin around the neck of the bird and then around the chicken breasts carefully with the tip of a sharp knife. Using your hands, spread the roasted / black garlic butter all over the breast meat under the skin. Pull the skin back over the chicken.
Add the oil and the rest of the garlic cloves to the pot and sprinkle the chicken with additional salt and pepper. Roll the chicken in the oil, finishing with the breast side facing up.
Roast until the chicken is golden brown and, when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a fork, the juices run clear, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. If the skin hasn’t browned to you liking, increase the heat in the last few minutes but watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn!
Baste the bird at regular intervals with the pan juices. At least twice during the basting process, sprinkle drops of sherry vinegar over the skin of the bird. This is an old French cooking trick I’ve learned to help crisp the skin (and it also adds great flavor to the pan juices)!
When the chicken is done, remove it to a platter, and surround it with the roasted garlic. Let it rest at least 10 minutes.
While it’s resting, prepare the gravy. Remove the halved head of black garlic from the chicken and extract the individual cloves. Push out the roasted black garlic pulp. Remove the meat juices from the roasting pan and transfer to a small saucepan.
Melt in butter and stir together. Put in the extracted black garlic clove pulp. Stir in flour. Gradually add sherry. Then gradually add chicken stock. Simmer for 5 minutes and season to taste.
Optional – add a squeeze of the cooked lemon and 1 tablespoon of crème fraiche and the mustard.
Carve the chicken onto warmed plates. Spoon over the gravy
Serve with the grilled or toasted country-style bread, inviting each diner to crush the garlic cloves (to remove the skin) and spread the garlic purée onto their toast.
Superb served with sautéed green beans and a refreshing salad beforehand.