This Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic will forever redefine the complexity of flavor that comes from these pungent little pods that tingle, tantalize and tangle the taste buds. As the chicken roasts and releases its inner juice into the pot, it combines with the sweet scent of garlic and wine kissed with the essence of herbs; it is a siren song of flavor.
Your first question is, “40 cloves, why so much?” And after your first bite, you’re saying, “more garlic, please.” Oh, sweet garlic, I love it so. The simplicity of this dish cannot be overstated. As a Provencal farm dish, the purity of garden-fresh ingredients is preserved in this recipe.
As I counted out my 40 cloves, I began to think of the brilliance of this recipe; it could have just been called Chicken with Garlic, but if left up to the cook to determine how much garlic to include, the taste of garlic would have been a watered-down afterthought. 40 means 40, so I continued to count.
Lest you think this recipe is one-dimensional, it is not all about the garlic. In fact, this dish keys on many flavors that play essential supporting roles. I start with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and rely on the method of cooking to produce dramatic results. A cold cast-iron skillet is the platform for caramelizing the skin. No seasoning, no oil, just let slow heat against the iron surface do its job; the result is ultra-crisp skin. The chicken is then splashed with wine and infused with herby flavors of thyme and tarragon—a bold combination.
I invite you to try this Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic recipe–a subtle and sweet version of a classic dish of the Provence region of southern France—and let me know if you think it belongs on your Acadiana table. I promise you’ll thank me.
- 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
- 40 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 green onions, stem ends removed and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence seasoning blend
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
- ½ cup chopped curly-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Place the chicken in a cold (not preheated) cast-iron pot or Dutch oven with heavy lid, skin-side down. Turn the heat to medium and let cook undisturbed for 20 minutes. You will hear sizzling and see oil leaching from the skin, but do not be tempted to check the chicken.
- Remove the pot from the heat and, using a metal spatula with a sharp edge, scrape up the chicken pieces along with the crust and fond underneath. Flip them over and inspect that the skin is browned and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the grease from the pot, and add the garlic cloves, green onion, and herbes de Provence. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté until the onions wilt and the garlic softens, about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking until the wine reduces by half, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot. Pour in the chicken stock and add the thyme, tarragon, and parsley. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the pot with a tight seal by wrapping the opening with aluminum foil and then placing a heavy lid on top. The trapped heat and steam inside is the key to fully cooking the garlic cloves. Place in the hot oven and set a timer for 1½ hours. Do not remove the lid during cooking.
- Remove the pot and uncover. Place the chicken pieces in a serving vessel. Remove the remaining stems from the herbs, and stir in the butter. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce with all of the garlic over the chicken and serve immediately with crusty French bread.
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