Yes, I'm serious. And if you’re an avid recipe reader like I am, you’ll know that this classic French recipe is really supposed to be “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.” Still, sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? Of course I had to try it. Various traditional and modern versions of this recipe made it sound delicious and comforting – perfect for our after-church Sunday dinner. But really, I just wanted to see what would happen when I cooked one meal with 40 cloves of garlic! What fun!
I read several recipes, and most of them called for all the cloves from 3 bulbs (or heads) of garlic. So that’s what I used. And I ended up with 63 cloves – some normal-sized, some merely slivers, but 63 nonetheless. And they all went into the pan. What the heck? At best, the vampires will stay away; at worst, everyone will. However, I just got back from sweating my tail off at the gym, and I didn't notice people moving away from me. I think I'm ok.
This recipe was delicious. Of course I cut the calories down from the traditional recipes, which were either for a whole roasted chicken or all the pieces of one. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my version. “There are other parts to a chicken, you know,” says my father-in-law, to which I always reply, “Not in this house!” I also cut down on the butter, gravy thickeners and eliminated the heavy cream called for in some recipes. What we ended up with was a delicious and easy meal that came together very quickly but tasted like it roasted for hours. Even Courtney liked it, though she’s now a self-proclaimed food critic and had to give it some critique. “It’s too juicy.” Fine by me, considering that between the stove top and the oven it cooked for about an hour. It was fall-off-the-bone tender (yes, I know it didn’t have a bone…but if it did, it would have fallen off) and full of flavor (it did, after all, contain 63 cloves of garlic). The best part was that a 4-ounce serving of chicken plus gravy only had about 180 calories! I served it with basmati rice and Italian green beans, and it was a lovely meal.
I know 63 cloves of garlic sounds like overkill, but when you roast garlic this way, it becomes mellow and almost nutty. Try this if you don’t believe me -- cut the pointy end off an entire bulb of garlic, exposing the tops of the cloves (don’t peel it or pull the cloves apart), drizzle the top with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap the bulb in foil and roast it for an hour or so. The cloves pop right out of the skin and you can spread them. Makes a very impressive appetizer with crusty bread and brie. Nothing like eating garlic by the clove! Delicious!
Chicken with 63 Cloves of Garlic
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 bulbs of garlic, cloves separated and peeled (doesn't really matter how many you end up with!)
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to skillet, browning for about 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken and add butter to pan. When butter is melted, add the whole garlic cloves. Sauté the garlic until it begins to brown and become fragrant (at this point, your family will start getting hungry!). Add chicken broth, wine, thyme, sage and bay leaves to the pan and bring to a boil. Deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add chicken pieces back to the pan on top of the garlic and liquid, cover, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove chicken from pan, discard the bay leaves, and blend the garlic and liquid with an immersion blender until smooth. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat with the gravy.
Hello Sunday dinner, goodbye vampires!
The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!