Sometime in the week after Christmas, Sarah’s younger sister Becky hinted towards coming to our place for a nice meal. It might just be the Yes/No/Maybe system that is spurred on by invitations and events on Facebook, but some days I’m not sure if a suggested plan is actually going to move forward, or it’s just everyday chat. Isn’t it funny how everyone gets so caught up in life these days that when people actually make, and then stick to the original plans, it can be rather surprising. How can we always be too busy to get together with friends and family? Anyways, I’m digressing…with a date set in stone, and Becky bringing along her close friend Claire, I looked to them for some direction; namely, the protein. I have no problem cooking a meal, but if given enough heads up I like to eliminate my chances of making something our guests won’t eat.
With the protein of choice being chicken and the only real nix being mushrooms, it made my options rather easy. Feeling inspired by Good Eats, I headed to my cookbooks and flipped through my Alton Brown collection until settling on 40 Cloves and a Chicken. 40 cloves of garlic…crazy right! Where Alton suggests breaking a whole chicken into 8 pieces, I went the easier route by getting a package of five bone-in, skin-on breasts. Yes, I could have gone with thigh meat, but our table was predominately white meat eaters. I loaded the table down with slices of fresh homemade crusty bread to start, accompanied by oil & balsamic of course, while the chicken was served along side roasted red peppers and baked sweet potatoes. Finally, if we didn’t have enough carbs at this point, I used the 10 minute post-cooking chicken relax time Alton suggests, to fire a thin crust pizza (fresh basil, salt, oil) into the oven so we could utilize all of the roasted cloves of garlic.
The meal turned out pretty darn good. I was worried that after 90 minutes the chicken would be dry, but it was still quite juicy and picked up just a faint hue of garlic. You could easily make this for you and your hot date, or for Bill & Eric, and never worry about garlic breath. Of course, you’d both have eaten it at that point though so it doesn’t really matter. Kiss away! The one thing you certainly want to make sure of is your initial browning. The chicken won’t develop any more colour in the pot, so really make sure you get that sear nice and brown at the start
Once our meal came to a close, the four of us sat back to relax, watch some random YouTube videos, chat and clean up. Once everything was washed, Claire was ready to unveil her dessert. She sliced some golden delicious apples, rolled them in a sugar/nutmeg mix and tossed them into the warm oven for about 20 minutes. After removing the slices, she loaded bowls with frozen yoghurt, divided the apple and finished with a dusting of dried coconut. This really was a light and refreshing end to our meal. I can’t wait for round two.
42 Cloves and a Chicken
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Good Eats: Volume 1, The Early Years
5 bone in, skin on, chicken breasts
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
10 sprigs fresh 42 peeled cloves Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Toss chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken on both sides in a dutch oven, or deep pan, over high heat (5-7minutes each side). Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
3. Remove chicken from the oven, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, serve family style.