Monday, January 5, 2009

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I love the Barefoot Contessa and her recipes. And I want her house on the Hamptons, and her cutting garden, and her hydrangeas, and her view.... small dreams, really. Actually it would be better if her house were somewhere on the Cape. But, I digress. I do love her recipes. Most of them are too rich with butter, according to my husband, but I have never made a recipe of hers that has turned out badly. That is true for her Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic recipe. Chicken breasts are browned, then braised in Cognac and wine along with the garlic. To use her words, how bad could that be?

Well, it is not bad. In fact, it is a delicious, fancy sort of comfort meal, impressive enough for company. But it is not difficult to make by any stretch of the imagination. I realize that forty cloves of garlic may sound like a lot, and it is, but they cook for quite a long time and the slow cooking mellows and sweetens the flavor significantly. I buy the garlic for this dish at Trader Joes (in the fresh vegetable section), in pre-peeled, packaged form. I once counted the cloves in the package and it was something around forty, so now I just know to dump the whole thing in. But if you cannot find pre-peeled cloves of garlic, it is really easy to peel them yourself. Simply crack open the heads of garlic and drop the cloves in boiling water for about a minute. The peel should come right off!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves (1 package pre-peeled garlic from Trader Joes)
6 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided (or good brandy)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 t dry)
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.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper on both sides. Brown the chicken in the butter and oil over medium high heat, in batches if necessary. It should take about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add all the peeled garlic to the pot and saute for about 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Pour in 2 T of the cognac and all the white wine to the pan and scrape up any brown bits. Return chicken and juices to the pan, sprinkle with thyme, bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes or until done (165 degrees).

Remove chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. In a small bowl whisk together flour with 1/2 cup of the sauce. Return to the pot and stir to thicken. Add remaining cognac and heavy cream and boil for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and pour over chicken, along with the garlic and serve.


Becky said...

Oh my god, this looks yummy! We did a more basic recipe of this (by Alton Brown), but we'll have to try this.

The best part is the garlic cloves themselves after the cooking -- they're perfect for spreading on bread.

Alison said...

Yes! The garlic is perfect for bread spreading...delish! :)