Sunday, January 03, 2010

Poulet aux quarante gousses d’áil or chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

Here's a dish that I made several times during last year - and hope to make again as soon as the fresh, new season's garlic appears on the market stalls in a couple of months. It's a dish that I had been intrigued by for ages - imagine, 40 whole garlic cloves to season just one chicken! - and when I finally made it, I fell instantly in love with it. When researching the dish, I came across several and very different versions. After making it several times, I've settled for this minimalist one. Just chicken, olive oil, lots of garlic and some salt'n'pepper. If you like your chicken with crispy skin and sticky, browned bits, then this version isn't perhaps for you, though you can always brown the chicken on a frying pan first and give it a short blast under the grill at the end.

The dish originates in Southern France, Provence, which is famed for its excellent olive oil and large, rosy-tinged garlic cloves. I love making this with young fresh garlic (see photo here), but it works with any garlic. Although the amount of garlic sounds somewhat over the top, then trust me and don't be tempted to choose some tiny garlic cloves. The bigger, the better here. Also, I'm sure the French would use a good extra virgin olive oil here, but if price is the issue, then any good olive oil works here.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
(Kana 40 küüslauguküünega)
Serves 6

Poulet aux quarante gousses d'ail / Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic / Kana 40 küüslauguküünega

1 whole chicken, preferably free-range (about 1,5 kg)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
40 large garlic cloves (from 4-5 whole heads of garlic)
250 ml (1 cup) olive oil
fresh herbs of your choice (rosemary, sage, thyme, bay leaves)

First, prep your garlic cloves. When making this with fresh and young garlic cloves, then there's no need to peel them. During winter you should first blanch your garlic cloves in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and remove the softened papery skins.
Using a kitchen paper, pat the chicken dry. Season generously with salt and pepper, both inside and out. Place the chicken, breast-side up, into a Dutch oven or heavy casserole dish where the chicken fits snugly (the better the fit, the less oil you need).
Push the garlic cloves and herbs around the chicken, pressing them down between the chicken and the dish.
Pour over the olive oil - check that all the garlic cloves are covered with oil.
Cover the saucepan and place into a preheated 180 C/360 F oven. Bake for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

Poulet aux quarante gousses d'ail / Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic / Kana 40 küüslauguküünega

To serve, carve the chicken into suitably large chunks. Serve with fresh green salad leaves and some wholemeal bread to mop up the delicious garlicky juices. Don't forget the softened and mellowed garlic cloves - these are the extra bonus of the dish. I love pressing them onto piece of bread.

* You can use the leftover garlicky olive oil to dress up a salad or serve as a seasoned frying oil during the next few days.


MeetaK said...

i love garlic and seriously have no cares if people call me garlic breath when i have indulged! this looks like the perfect dish! i've heard about it aften but now i need to make this!

Anne said...

Gorgeous! I made Barefoot Contessa's version which is quite different, but I bet this tastes wonderful too!

Anonymous said...

I make this often in the spring time its excellent. there is a whole new dimension of flavor if you can get a chicken that was living just the day before from a farmers market or a local farmer.
Excellent recipe!

Anonymous said...

Looks amazing as usual. Can't wait to try it. Question: why do you blanche the garlic cloves in winter?

Alanna said...

This has been on my list to make fuh-evah. I've even bought the garlic who-knows-how-many times? Thanks for the reminder!

Gay said...

This is also on my list to cook as well! Hope to make this soon.

breakfast bar stools said...

Your chicken looks awesome and extremely delicious!
Just a question, if I may ask: what dish can you suggest other than the Dutch one? Once I burned my fingers with the steam using that dish so now I try to avoid it when I can. :)

Pille said...

Meeta - you don't really get a garlic breath when the garlic has been cooked for so long :)

Anne - I saw your version as well - and bookmarked it!

Anon. - unfortunately you cannot get freerange organic chicken here in Estonia yet, but things are promising at least. I can only imagine how much better this would taste with a proper chicken!!!

Sirje - talvised küüslauguküüned tuleks esmalt koorida ja see blanšeerimine aitab seda teha. Ka on nende maitse palju vängem.

Alanna - you're very welcome :)

Gay - do try it!

BreakfastBarStools - well, you just have to be more careful next time.