Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31: Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic

This morning, Dan and I bought some herb seedlings at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill and have planted them and have them growing on top of a bookcase in our dining room. Our dining room is very bright and sunny, as opposed to our old apartment. It's a perfect place for herbs to grow.

It is silly to be excited about $20 worth of herb seedlings, but I can't tell you how happy all of this makes me. Fresh herbs are one of my favorite things: plucked right off the stem and tossed into a simple green salad, chopped and tossed with hot pasta and butter and parmesan cheese, stirred into a sauce just as it comes off the heat. I can't think of a single application for fresh herbs that I don't think is sheer genius.

We are keeping it simple, just because we're limited on space: chives, thyme, rosemary, and basil. We're also going to put a couple of tomato plants on the deck, and I am pushing for some arugula and a hot pepper plant, because yum, hot peppers.

I have a new job and am going back to work on Monday. I'm quite thrilled about this and I really can't wait, but I have a significantly longer commute than I used to (although the new location is in Dupont Circle and I am really just incredibly excited about the good restaurants and). I have been cooking a lot in preparation for this longer commute: pork barbecue in the slow cooker (not bad, had to use the fattiest pork loin I could find because my supermarket didn't have shoulder, so it's not quite as juicy as I like, but still incredibly tender and delicious), ground turkey taco filling (this is so good, almost better than ground beef), and my mother was here and I took her to the Penzeys Spice outlet in Vienna, Virginia last week, and gave into temptation and bought bratwurst seasoning, mixed it into a mixture of ground beef and ground pork, and made the best burgers I have ever had in my life--they really taste like brats! It's like magic. I highly recommend this stuff. Tomorrow I'm planning on making a mushroom-spinach-chicken stromboli with roasted garlic, and making two so that there'll be an easy dinner one night next week.

I'm also planning on making this dish from Everyday Food's May issue, and making chicken salad or chicken enchilada filling with the leftovers. This is classic French bistro food, simple, clean, intuitive eating, mostly hands-off. I do plan on brining the chicken before roasting it; I really think that brining is to chicken what vanilla is to cookies. Is that analogy too cerebrally foodie? I hope not. Anyway, it also calls for a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Which I have now! Whoo-hoo!

40 cloves of garlic sounds ridiculous, I know. Do it, you won't regret it. The heat mellows the garlic to this sweet, toasty gorgeousness. Take half the garlic and mash them into some potatoes with lots of butter and whole milk, and save the other half in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, toss it with sauteed shrimp and pasta or into risotto or mash it and spread it on pizza under the sauce and toppings and cheese. You're welcome.

Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic

40 cloves of peeled garlic from 3 or 4 heads
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), rinsed, patted dry, giblets removed
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 475.

Place chicken in a large oven-proof skillet or roasting pan. Rub all over with 1 tablespoon butter; season with salt and pepper. Add thyme, garlic, and remaining butter to skillet.

Roast, basting occasionally with juices and stirring garlic, until instant-read thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh (avoiding bone) reads 165, 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven, rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve with pan juices.


ntsc The Art of The Pig said...

Take a garlic clove and spread it on a good piece of baguette.

Neen said...

Did you get that recipe out of the New York Times of that French Bistro book (sorry, my copy is packed in a box and the title is being elusive)? We tried it, adored it, and bought her cookbook immediately after dinner because of it!
I absolutely understand your glee about seedlings. Do has found us a lovely apartment out in California (though he still hasn't sent me photos!), and the first thing I plan to do upon arrival is to buy me some potted herbs (July is a little late for seedlings I would imagine, but then again, what do I know?). All this to say, awesome. I'm coveting your seedlings.
And I hope your Dupont Circle job is turning out well! Oh man, I would spend so much money if I worked a stone's throw from Kramer's books! Of course, it make make you less excited about going to the Dupont Farmer's Market on Sundays. It would almost be like going to work.