Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ali Baba and the 40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken

Typical afternoon drive time conversation:

Me: Hey! How's your day going?

The Man: Fine; how's yours?

Me: Fine. What do you want for dinner?

The Man: I don't know...do you want anything in particular?

Me: No.

[crickets]

Me: How about I stop at Publix on the way home and rustle something up?

The Man: Fine. Whatever you want to make.

See--I do have it very lucky that he's not a picky eater, and some weeks, I actually plan out menus, so I don't have to ask that question. Yesterday, however was not one of those days, but I actually had an answer to the what's for dinner question. "I'll make Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic," I say, as I get off at the exit before ours, and head to Publix.

This is the easiest chicken recipe ever...wait, you say, how can that be? Someone's got to peel those 40 cloves, don't they? Ah, Grasshopper, have you learned nothing? There's a perfectly acceptable method/short cut. Behold, I give you Christopher Ranch Peeled Garlic! In your grocer's produce section!

Yeah, yeah, it's pre-packaged and costs more, but damn, the convenience of it all!! Peel off the protective plastic seal, open the lid, and dump. What more could a girl ask for? (Well, I actually have a list, but that's a whole 'nother post.)

And, it makes this easy recipe even easier...and these days, I'm all about the easy!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
(adapted from a recipe sent to me by Cheryl, who got it heaven knows where!)

Serves 4
Time: ~1 hour

1 3-4 lb. Chicken cut into serving pieces (with the skin! Live with it! Take it off later, if you must)

40 cloves fresh garlic (3-4 large heads or use the small pre-peeled container by Christopher Ranch in produce section)

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 Tbs fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried

2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves or 2 tsp dried

6 sprigs minced parsley or 2 Tbs dried

Salt to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

Black pepper to taste

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1. Place chicken in shallow glass baking dish, skin side up. Using the back of your knife, slightly smash/mash the cloves. Scatter the garlic around and under the pieces of chicken.

2. Pour the white wine over the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, the herbs, and cayenne.

3. Cut zest from lemon and sprinkle onto the chicken, and then squeeze the juice over the chicken. Cover the pan tightly with lid or aluminum foil.

4. Bake chicken in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the covering, and brush the tops of the chicken pieces with olive oil. Then, crank up the temp to 425 degrees F, and continue cooking until the chicken skin is a crisp golden brown, the meat is thoroughly done and tender, and the juices run clear—about 10-15 more minutes.

If you've got that ubiquitous loaf of crusty bread around, it's nice to spread the cooked garlic on it and eat. Make sure ALL your dinner guests eat some, for the halitosis counterbalance, you know.

Anyway, I stopped at the Publix with high hopes of running in, grabbing a few things, and running out. And, imagine the shock, the chagrin, not to mention the wailing and gnashing of teeth when I discovered that there was no pre-peeled garlic to be had! Only that chopped stuff. So not what I wanted!!

So, I gainfully gather up 3-4 heads and drag them home, like a good little culinary student.

And, yes, I peeled and smashed 40 (I counted!) cloves of garlic, which was about 3 and a half heads. About halfway through the second head, I realized that maybe I should have worn some gloves, because all my vampire friends would not want to play with me later and would run screaming from the smell of my hands. (Why don't vampires like garlic? And, what the hell do Italian/Mediterranean vampires do? Do they have to move to countries (like Iceland) that don't have a large garlic-eating populace? Things to think about...)

What did I learn from my garlic peeling? Well, and I added this to the recipe procedure above, I think the garlic works better if you smash it before you scatter it around. The chicken seemed to be more garlicky this time, and that's a good thing. So, even if I take the shortcut way with the pre-peeled, I'll whack them a little bit to help them release their garlicky personalities.

And, guess what? I have an answer to tonight's dinner question, too! It's something I don't ever cook, but The Man likes, so this should be fun, yes? I'll let you know tomorrow how it turns out. Wish me luck!

(I'm a happy garlic miser!)

Update: I meant to mention this earlier during the post, but I forgot...garlic fumes, I guess. For the white wine portion of the program, I usually buy the little picnic four-pack of some chardonnay or pinot grigio. We don't drink a lot of white wine at our house, and rather than open up a new bottle for a recipe, I use the little ones. You get about 1 - 1 1/4 cups of wine, depending on the size of the mini bottle, and it's perfect for those recipes where a little bit of wine does a body good. You could drink the rest of it, or put it in the fridge and use it again within the next week or so, and it should be fine.

1 comment:

Lin said...

The one time I tried the chicken with garlic thing, it turned out terrible. I will have to use your recipe this time. I think the lemon will perk up the recipe considerably.

Alas, since changing jobs, Publix (my favorite grocery store) is no longer on my way home. I have to detour to double back into Madison for some items not supplied by the fabulous Star Market. I am feeling the demise of the neighborhood grocery store. When Winn-Dixie pulled back from Alabama, that left a real hole. I understand they were getting stomped by low end groceries from Wally World, but I do miss the day when every area had its own store.