Chicken and Garlic Fricassee with Sweet Garlic Confit

Chicken and Garlic Fricassee with Sweet Garlic ConfitFrench Roots
I feel like we have finally turned a corner. As I look out my window at the clear blue skies I actually think that, maybe, hopefully, please dear lord let it be true, the rain could possibly be over? The calendar says spring after all….

Spring is a welcome occurrence. Weather is probably the most important reason, with Baseball as a very close second. But, for me, it is also a time when I flip a switch on my cooking. As new spring produce comes into market my dinners get lighter and fresher. And consistently, they get French-er.

I always seem to circle back to French food in the spring. Maybe it’s that whole Spring rebirth thing. Cooking French food gets me back to basic techniques so that I can go forth and innovate. Kind of like a spring cleaning for my culinary mind. Clean out all of the winter recipes and start fresh.

I have a number of French cookbooks and one of my favorite authors is Patricia Wells. Since moving to France in 1980, she has become an expert in French cooking with an emphasis on the Provence region where she opened her acclaimed cooking school.

This Chicken and Garlic Fricassee is very French—and very garlicy—but in the best way possible. The garlic confit is a must, so you will need to plan ahead for this one. The original recipe calls for a whole chicken cut into 8 parts. I prefer to do this with bone-in chicken thighs

Joyeux printemps à tous!

Chicken and Garlic Fricassee with Sweet Garlic Confit
Adapted from The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells

8 meaty chicken thighs, bone in
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
20 plump cloves garlic, peeled, halved, green germs removed
1 recipe Sweet Garlic Confit (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups white wine

Generously season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, combine the butter and oil over moderate heat. When the fats are hot but not smoking, add the chicken skin-side down, and brown until the poultry turns an even golden color (about 5 minutes).

Use a pair of tongs to avoid piercing the poultry, and turn the chicken pieces to brown them on the other side, (about 5 additional minutes). All the while, carefully regulating the heat to avoid scorching the skin. In the event that your pan is not large enough, you can do this step in two batches.

When all the pieces are browned, transfer them to a platter. Season once again with salt and pepper.

Add the halved garlic cloves to the fat in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and return the chicken and any cooking juices to the skillet. Cover and cook over low heat, turning the chicken in the sauce once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through (about 20 minutes). Transfer the chicken and garlic to a large warmed platter.

Generously season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and set aside to keep warm.

Discard the fat in the skillet, and return it to the stove over high heat. Add the sweet garlic confit. Once hot, carefully pour the white wine over the garlic to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any bits that cling to the bottom of the skillet. Continue to cook the sauce over medium-high heat, uncovered. Smash the softened garlic cloves to make a smooth puree. Spoon the garlic puree over the chicken and serve.

Sweet Garlic Confit
This is great to spread on fresh French bread.

4 plump heads garlic with cloves separated and peeled
1 quart whole milk

Set a sieve over a large bowl.

Place the garlic in a small saucepan, and cover it with 2 cups of the milk. Bring the milk just to a simmer over moderate heat. Immediately pour the garlic and milk through the sieve, and discard the milk.

Return the garlic to the pan, cover with the remaining 2 cups of milk. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, until the garlic is soft. A small knife inserted into a clove should meet no resistance (about 20 minutes).

Allow the garlic to cool in the milk.

Drain the garlic, discarding the milk. Transfer to a container and cover securely.

The confit will store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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