There’s nothing more satisfying than eating a hearty meal on a cold day. What can be more comforting than something warm simmering in the kitchen, the smell wafting around the house, teasing you, tormenting you with luscious, rich scents?
What a wonderful thing to look forward to, especially near the end of the week.
A few years ago for some reason I started craving braises with chicken, and I remembered a dish I made with a friend years ago, but hadn’t had since—chicken with forty cloves of garlic.
My dad loved garlic, and I grew to love it too; he would butter toast and put raw garlic and salt on it and eat it. He was old school Ukrainian, and thought food could aid in vitality and help treat illness and as an adult I’ve come to believe this to a degree too.
When someone in my family is sick now, it’s time to cook matzo ball soup with the matzos made with saved chicken fat; seems to really nourish whoever is sick.
Now that fall is here I think even more about braises and hearty fare that can simmer and serve two purposes—take a bit of chill out of the house and fill your belly with warm goodness.
Years ago I found a simple Nigella Lawson recipe for Chicken with Forty cloves of garlic.
I’ve made a few minor adjustments and suggestions to it, but it is a staple of the cold weather months. I recommend serving it with crusty bread to smear the garlic on (La Brea is an easily found favourite), boiled potatoes served with butter, salt and pepper, and sautéed greens.
Some things I am specific about for a reason, like the stock. If I have my own on hand I use it, but otherwise it’s worth hunting down Swanson’s Crafted Roasted Chicken Broth, in a darker container than their normal products; it makes the sauce in this dish richer than just normal stock. Here in the Pacific Northwest I can find it at Kroger stores like Fred Meyer and QFC.
I also have a massive, old lemon thyme bush that I use in the recipe, which I think helps brighten the sauce up. If you’re daring, you could always use a tiny bit of lemon zest grated in the sauce at the end for a similar effect.
I also always have a bottle of vermouth around to use for deglazing in place of white wine—great for not only martinis but cooking, too!
Now onto the the things you'll need use and the things you'll need to do to make delicious Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.
Dutch oven with lid
Wooden utensil for scraping
Heavy lid or plate to fit inside Dutch oven (optional)
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
~40 cloves of garlic, removed from the heads, cloves intact and unpeeled
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced, (white and green parts that are in good condition)
1 small shallot bulb, trimmed and finely diced
~1/3 c dry vermouth or white wine
1 container Swanson Roasted Chicken Broth, home made broth, or other rich chicken stock
Salt & Black Pepper
~7 thyme stalks, (lemon thyme, if you have it)
Cooking Instructions for Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
Preheat oven to 350 F.
On stovetop, heat enough olive oil in Dutch oven to thinly cover the bottom of the pan over medium to medium-high heat.
Salt and pepper skin side of thighs; when oil is hot, brown thighs skin side down, weighing the thighs down with another lid or heavy plate if desired (just be careful when removing it!)
Brown skin on thighs to desired colour (I like them nice and caramel coloured). Remove and set aside in a bowl. Lower heat slightly.
Hold several paper towels in the tongs and lightly dab excess oil from the Dutch oven if necessary.
Deglaze the pan with vermouth, scrape up the nice brown bits (called fond) with your wooden spatula. Allow to reduce slightly.
Add shallots and scallions and some thyme leaves, torn from stems; briefly sauté and then turn off heat.
Add half the garlic cloves and a few thyme sprigs to the bottom of the pan and top with the thighs, skin side up.
Scatter remaining garlic cloves on top with a few additional thyme leaves.
Add enough broth along the side of the pan to come up to the middle of the thighs but not submerge the skin.
Roast in the oven for approximately 90 minutes, check periodically. If the liquid is low, add more broth or a little water.
(If adding lemon zest, remove thighs, add zest, stir and taste before serving. Adjust to your liking.)
Serve thighs with several of the cloves and some sauce; the garlic should separate easily now from the paper, and is terrific spread on warm bread.
You can smell this through the screen, can't you? If not, the people around you will likely be smelling the garlic through your pores for the next few days. . . but still - worth it.