Chicken with 40 Cloves Of Garlic

Chicken with 40 Cloves Of GarlicFall, Fires, and Garlic
September is a weird time in California. While the rest of the country is thinking about colored leaves, pumpkin spice, and has started pulling out their light sweaters, we here on the west coast are still battling 90-degree heat and, sadly, forest fires. What’s happening in Tahoe is heartbreaking. What would normally be a gorgeous Labor Day weekend to celebrate the last days of summer (at least according to the calendar) is now an ash-filled hazy orange nightmare. Makes talking about food trivial but, we still gotta eat…

There are a lot of reasons I chose this week’s recipe. First, this dish is the very essence of comfort food. French comfort food. With everything that is going on locally as well as across the globe, we could all use a little comfort right now. And, I think Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic will do just the trick. There are multiple versions of this classic dish, the most obvious being from Julia Child. I personally like my modified version of the James Beard’s classic.

Rosh Hashana starts Monday at sundown and for those who celebrate, this recipe is a tasty and flexible melt-in-your-mouth way to feed a small family or a large crowd depending on the size of your Jewish New Year feast. This is the second reason I chose this recipe.

The third reason is because you put it in a pot, throw it in the oven, and walk away for over an hour. (Preferably with a lovely, very cold glass of white wine). Since my daughter has practice that runs fairly late in the evening, a recipe like this is a great way to have a hot meal ready when she gets home and is ravenous.

Paired with crusty bread and your favorite salad on the side, this is a classic satisfying meal no matter what your reasons for choosing to make it.

That being said, thank you and Godspeed to our firefighters! L’shana Tovah to all who are celebrating. And, Go Falcons!

Chicken with 40 Cloves Of Garlic Recipe
Adapted from James Beard
Serves 8

2/3 cup olive oil
16 chicken legs, any mix of drumsticks and thighs
4 ribs of celery, cut into long strips
2 medium-size onions, coarsely chopped
6 sprigs parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or substitute fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
40 cloves garlic (about 3 whole heads), unpeeled
French bread for serving

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Brown the Chicken
Place the olive oil in a shallow dish or bowl. Dip the chicken pieces into the oil and coat evenly on all sides.

Heat a wide frying pan or cast-iron skillet oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. You might need to do this in batches. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Assemble the ingredients
Cover the bottom of a 6-quart Dutch oven with the celery and onions. Add the parsley and tarragon, then place the browned chicken on top. Pour the vermouth over the chicken and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and a few gratings of nutmeg. Tuck the garlic around and between the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken
Tightly cover the top of the Dutch oven with aluminum foil and fit the lid over the foil to create an airtight seal. Bake the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes without removing the cover.

Check the chicken
Check for doneness, and return the casserole to the oven if the chicken needs more cooking time.

To serve
Garnish the chicken with the chopped parseley. Serve it along with the pan juices, the garlic, and thin slices of warmed French bread. Spread the bread with the garlic that has been squeezed from the root end of the clove.

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