Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken with 40+2 Cloves of Garlic

Ok, I'm sort of a garlic gal.  I like it when it's cooked long and low and slow, it gets sweet and nutty and has that background flavor of garlic.  I like it raw when it's sharp and spicy.  I like it slivered in a pan gravy when it's slightly browned, crisp and on the edge of bitter.  Yeah, I'm sort of a fan.  When I was in Costco last week they had the gigantic net bags of garlic on for $5.00, there was no way I could have left the store without them. 

Wandering my local grocery shop yesterday I was delighted to see that chicken thighs were on sale AGAIN.  Seriously, do people not know what a sweet deal they are?  They are way cheaper than breasts, better tasting, better suited to cooking of any type, never dry out and, well, I guess there's more for me this way.  The sale netted me a "family pack" of thighs, 10 rather large ones, for $4.00.  Really, there's no way I could have left the store without them. 

I am seriously in love with my large, 6 quart, red, 1,000 lb, cast iron, white enamel lined dutch oven.  I have noticed I look for things to cook in it just so I can use it.

I don't know if it's the moon, the pollen in the air, the tilt of the planet or what but I have a feeling three of my most favorite things are about to come together in a cosmic boom that'll leave me, and whoever is lucky enough to be near me later, licking lips, fingers and toasting the fact it all came together with a few minutes of activity, 2 hours of doing something else while it dealt with itself and a mountain of mashed potatoes that I never mind making!


In the dutch oven, drop a blob of bacon grease and get it smokin' hot.  Salt and pepper the skin side of the thighs liberally!!  and fry them in two batches.  Salt and pepper the top side while you are waiting, do not futz with it!  Leave it good 3-4 minutes.  Check to see if it's brown enough to flip...this is NOT brown enough!

Ahhh, THIS is brown enough, flip!  Cook a few minutes then transfer to a bowl, do the other half. We aren't trying to cook the chicken through, merely give a good base to the sauce and get the skin nicely crispy for later when we reheat it without a cover to get it crunchy again.

You can see (above) there's loads of fat in the pan, toss most of it, this (below) is how much you want left. Throw in 42! unpeeled cloves of garlic, shush them around a moment then pour in a couple of glugs of chicken stock, just enough to boil madly and pick up all those yummmmmmy brown crunchy crusty chicken flavory bits on the bottom.

Boil it for just a minute then glug in a little white wine. Boil it for a moment, and seriously, look at this sauce already!  couldn't you just drink it?  Salt and pepper a little if it needs it.

Nestle the chicken thighs pack in the pan in a relatively flat layer, we will be reheating this without the lid and I want as much skin as possible in direct heat to re-crisp it later.  You will see the liquid is barely 1/4 of the way up the chicken.  I don't care if the meat it in liquid.  The beautiful thing about thighs is they are virtually impossible to overcook so this is a great meal to cook in the morning and then leave to reheat when the masses are drooling at the kitchen table.  I have fresh thyme growing in my laundry room (don't ask) so I cut off a few sticks of it and tossed it on the chicken.  Clamp on a tight lid and toss it into a 325 oven for 2 hours.

Ahh, here we are 2 hours later, the chicken is ridiculously tender, the sauce is concentrated (you can add stock if you want more sauce after you remove the chicken and boil it down, I'm not going to today).  The skin is softened but a few minutes under a broiler or in a hot oven without a lid will bring it right back, or you can eat it as it. The garlic is so soft you can press down on a clove with your fork and the soft, nutty, garlicky innards ooze out.  I like to spread it on bread but tonight i'll smear it on the chicken as I eat each glorious mouthful!   

I fished come garlic cloves out for you, in the name of science and thorough blogging of course and, um, yeah I ate them for you too!  mmm
 Oh why not, here's a couple more beauty shots, see you can squash them out whole or keep squashing them and get a delicious blob on the end of your fork and then eat or spread on bread or on the chicken.  Hmm, would my family mind if *I* ate 6 hours before they did?  The smell in here is unbelievable!
Oh, ok, I'm busy for the rest of the day so I'm leaving it covered on the stove-top and will heat it up when I come home and make mashed potatoes and I'll steam some sugar snap peas to go with it tonight.  So, sure it took me 2 hours this morning but it'll reheat in the time it takes to make the vegetables and it is so delicious and the garlic is soft and you can squeeze the cloves out to have along side.

Go on, make it with your three favorite things, it's a keeper "recipe", you know you want it! 


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