Monday, May 14, 2012
Chicken with 40 Cloves
Well, it took long enough, but much like the cherry blossoms in my beloved hometown, the farmers market is finally beginning to bloom. It may still appear to be a heap of potatoes and onions to some, but to me it's the personification of Sunday supper. There are few things I enjoy more than roasting the perfect chicken and potatoes, kicking my heels up and reading the Sunday paper while dinner slowly browns and boils—unmanned— in a toasty oven.
But, opportunities to luxuriate are few and far between these days, so over the last several months I've turned to pan roasts as a speedy comfort food alternative. You're still cooking an entire chicken on the bone, but cutting it up cuts cooking time by more than half. One of my favorite roast chicken dinners is a classic French recipe called Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic, and it makes the transition from whole chicken to pan roast beautifully. Sure, forty garlic cloves sounds like a lot, but when left unpeeled their skins act like papery cocoons, transforming the pungent cloves from sharp and spicy to sweet and delicate.
Spring is the perfect time to make this dish because you can use young (also known as green) garlic, which is basically garlic that hasn't yet fully matured and separated into cloves. It doesn't have quite as much bite as everyday garlic and it's all over the farmers market right now. Also all over the market? New potatoes, spring onions, bulb onions on the stalk, and numerous other aromatics that would go perfectly in a pan roast. I used all of the above and threw in a few Meyer lemons that had seen better days but were still plenty juicy, along with some of the Meyer lemon zest (on the chicken skin) and some smoky/spicy ground Aleppo pepper.
But no matter how you roast it, just toss some chicken and garlic in a casserole dish with a few potatoes and stick in all in a hot oven. Thirty-five minutes later I guarantee you'll have a delicious and comforting meal, and no one ever needs to know how (not) long it took you to make, or how much garlic you used.
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic (Pan Roast Edition)
1 chicken cut into 8 pieces or 4 chicken legs separated into thighs and drumsticks
1 Tablespoon Aleppo pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake)
40 garlic cloves, skins left on
15-20 new potatoes (larger ones halved)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Meyer lemons (regular lemons will also work), cut into 6 wedges
2 onions, quartered
ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Season chicken on both sides with salt and Aleppo pepper. Place chicken in a large roasting pan or oven-safe casserole dish and set aside.
2. Toss the new potatoes, onion quarters, garlic cloves and lemon wedges in a large bowl with the extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper and scatter in the roasting pan with the chicken. Roast for 35-40 minutes in the oven or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender. Enjoy!