This blog is officially on steroids. Not only am I posting twice today, but the first recipe I’m sharing for our picnic themed week is roast chicken. With 40 cloves of garlic. Yeah. You read me right. Four-ty. Now if you didn’t know this already, whole unpeeled garlic caramelises when roasted, leaving a mellow sweetness, denuded of its pungent quality. If you’ve never tried it before, I urge you to really give this recipe a go.
Those of you familiar with French food must know that this is actually a very classic dish. And like many classic dishes, there are as many variations as there are cooks in France. My version is a very simple version, butter, garlic, wine, sans cream.
Those who are familiar with making roast chicken also must be aware that this humble bird can be a show stopper when roasted, with minimal amount of fuss, and high flexibility. Serve it hot, serve it cold, serve it with potatoes, serve it on a sandwich or in a salad. You can’t beat its versatility. Thus, making it the perfect picnic food. And I don’t know about you but for me there is something rustically appealing about gnawing on chicken drumsticks in the open air.. Don’t you think?
Herbed Roast Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
- 3 heads of garlic, cloves separated, peel still intact
- 60 gr. (2 oz) softened butter
- 10 thyme sprigs
- 1 whole chicken (around 1.5 kg)
- 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 150 ml. white wine (I used Riesling) / water
- 400 gr. (14 oz) red skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks
PREHEAT OVEN TO 200 C (400 F).
In a small bowl, mix salt and pepper together.
Choose a baking dish that will fit your chicken snugly. Place Potatoes on the dish, making a bed for your chicken. Crumble 3 thyme sprigs on the potatoes and sprinkle with the salt and pepper mixture.
PREPARE YOU CHICKEN: If you’ve washed your bird, dry it with a paper towel several times. This ensures a nice crispy skin later. Slowly lift the skin around the neck and place 4 thyme sprigs between the skin and the meat. Place the remaining thyme sprigs inside the cavity. Rub butter all over your chicken, including the cavity. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the bird, including the cavity. Take half of the garlic and place them inside the cavity. Scatter the rest over the potatoes.
NOW YOU’RE READY TO ROAST YOUR CHICKEN. Gently place the chicken on the bed of garlic & potatoes and pour wine into the dish. Roast breast side up for 30 minutes before turning the chicken on its back to roast the other side for 45 minutes. Baste your chicken every so often with the cooking liquid. When the back of your chicken looks nice and golden, turn it over one more time and let roast for another 15 minutes (don’t forget to baste).
Your chicken is done when the skin is crispy and golden and most of the cooking liquid is gone. When you’ve let your chicken out of the oven, LET IT REST FOR ANOTHER 15 MINUTES before cutting so it stays juicy. Serve hot with the roasted potatoes or cold in a salad/sandwich.