One of my favorite weekend meals to make in the cooler months is a roast chicken. Not only that I love the delicious aroma of chicken roasting in the oven, all I need is throwing in some root vegetables and potatoes on the side, and I have a complete meal which will last me at least a couple of days. On weekends that I don’t have as much time, I turn to recipe like this. While the name may sound scary (forty cloves of garlic?), trust me that these garlic cloves really turn sweet once cooked and roasted with the sauce. Peeling all of the garlic cloves take a little time, so when I know that I am going to make these, I would peel all of the garlic a couple of days ahead of time, and store them in the refrigerator. When I am ready to cook them, I have the garlic ready to go. I really LOVE this sauce, so I make at least double and distribute it generously on the chicken pieces. I also love the sauce as a mix in to my mashed potatoes. I have also enjoyed this recipe best only using dark pieces from organic chicken (they tend to run a little smaller); the meat is a lot more flavorful and succulent that way. Now if I could only cook this in a crock-pot, I’d be in heaven!
3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.
Adapted from Barefoot in Paris