Or, a perfect Sunday chicken.
Growing up, we often had roasted lemon-oregano chicken with potatoes on Sundays. (Even then, I liked dark meat more, and that was always reserved for me because I was spoiled.) Although that’s still (and will probably always be) my favorite roast chicken, this one is pretty damn good. The nice thing about this recipe is that the chicken is cut up and pan-fried, so the time it needs to roast in the oven is minimal. There is some prep involved, in terms of the brining and the roasting of the garlic, but most of that is inactive and easy-peasy.
I think my husband must have asked me like 3 times if I was really using 40 cloves of garlic in one dish. He was under the impression both that this would be pungent, and that it was expensive or wasteful. He missed the memo about garlic heads being 10 cents a head, I guess.
Roasted garlic isn’t pungent in the least bit. It’s sweet and mellow and delicious. It adds such a great depth to this chicken and the pan sauce.
I took Cook’s Illustrated’s suggestion to spread the roasted garlic on some crusty bread–a great suggestion. Of course, I couldn’t let the pan sauce be so lonely on the plate, so we also had mashed redskin potatoes. Double carb nights in this household are rare, so this was a nice treat. I’ll pretend we didn’t eat half the loaf of bread with hunks of feta before dinner even was even started.
This is a classic dish and there are plenty of recipes for it, but most are quite similar. I debated between this one and Ina Garten’s but settled here because I didn’t have cognac and I liked the herbs in this recipe better, too. It definitely didn’t disappoint!
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks) and trimmed of excess fat. [I just made 10 pieces, wings included - why waste?]
Ground black pepper
3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
¾ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve ¼-cup salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken pieces in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper.
2. Meanwhile, toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
3. Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-teaspoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan with oil. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.
4. Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil to crisp skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into sauceboat and serve.