Thursday: Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic and Pommes de Terre

If I had to quickly rattle off a top three list of foods that make me ridiculously happy, I think it would go something like…butter, bacon, and garlic. Which is why Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic is one of my favorite things ever to make. I’ve seen several variations on this traditional French dish, but Smitten Kitchen’s version is my favorite for the following reasons:

  1. It has the simplest ingredient list — seven ingredients and you’re all set.
  2. Everything is cooked on the stove — no oven required.
  3. Because you cook the chicken in parts, it’s easy to just use specific cuts or pare down the recipe.

If you can’t/won’t buy pre-peeled garlic cloves, Martha Stewart has an amazing video on her website featuring a fast way to peel forty cloves of garlic.  Spoiler alert: you put your garlic bulbs in a metal bowl, cover it with another metal bowl, and then shake it like giant maracas for about five minutes until the cloves slip out of their skins.  Seriously, it’s magic.

photo 2-1photo 1-1

I usually serve this with couscous because Noah — my rice-hating boy — will actually eat couscous.  Plus it’s nice to have something to sop up all those lovely, lovely, garlicky pan juices.  I also usually serve this with a green veggie just to break up the monochrome (haricot vert with almonds is great because then I’ll also toss some almonds into the couscous for some extra texture) but I had some extra time today, some leftover beef broth, and another recipe that I’d been meaning to try and so today it was Pommes de Terre a la Boulangere.  Essentially, it’s potato gratin made with broth instead of milk.  The recipe calls for browning the onions for 15 minutes, but in my opinion if you’re going to spend 15 minutes cooking onions, then you might as well take an additional 15 minutes and caramelize the bastards.  If you are unsure how to caramelize onions, there is a great slideshow tutorial here.  And if you really want to nerd out over onions, you can read all about the science behind caramelization here.


Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic, serves 4
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Notes: I have made this recipe using all sorts of chicken — cut-up whole chicken; skin on; skin off; chicken breast and legs; breasts only — trust me…it all works. I also occasionally omit the butter and replace it with olive oil in order to lighten the dish up. I usually halve the amount of chicken but will leave the rest of the ingredients intact…because it’s just that good.

1 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
About 40 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned broth.

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place a deep, nonreactive skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and add oil and butter. When fats are hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces skin side down and cook until skin turns an even, golden brown, about 5 minutes. Work in batches, if necessary, and carefully regulate heat to avoid scorching skin. Turn pieces and brown them on other side for an additional 5 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Bury garlic cloves under chicken to make sure they settle in one layer at bottom of skillet. Saute, shaking or stirring pan frequently, until garlic is lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add wine and stock, scraping bottom of pan.

3. Cover and continue cooking until juices run clear when a thigh is pricked, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve chicken with garlic and pan juices and, if desired, rice or sauteed potatoes.

Pommes de Terres a la Boulangere, serves 6
Source: French Food at Home

Notes: Four onions may sound like a lot but you’ll need them as they’ll shrink down quite a bit. Like I mentioned earlier, if you have the time I would highly recommend caramelizing the onions. I didn’t have any thyme on hand so I used herbs de provence, but I’m willing to bet that anything in that mixture — marjoram, thyme, oregano, rosemary — would work equally well.

3 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 onions, sliced
2 pounds potatoes, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 cups beef stock

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Melt half the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan, and gently fry the onions until soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Spread half the onions in the bottom of a casserole. Lay a layer of sliced potatoes on top, season with salt and pepper, and scatter with thyme leaves. Build another layer of onions, then a final one of potatoes, and finally pour over the stock. Cover the pan with foil, and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed, 2 to 3 hours, removing the foil for the last hour if you like a crisp top.

3 thoughts on “Thursday: Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic and Pommes de Terre

  1. I have a similar recipe in my The Complete Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook: Gilroy Garlic Festival and keep meaning to try it out! I think I’ll give your recipe a try instead because those pictures have won me over. I am doing this sometime in the coming weeks fo sho.

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