Traditionally this dish is made with a whole roast chicken, baked in a sealed casserole with the garlic cloves and a bouquet garni. The chicken cooks slowly in the oven, and when the casserole is opened the wonderful aroma of the garlic permeates the air. It is really a homestyle dish and not appropriate to the busy open-line restaurant format at Square One. For years I have wanted to adapt this recipe to the constraints of the restaurant. The need for individual servings demanded that I use a poussin or chicken parts; a large roaster would result in portioning problems. But in the short time it takes to cook the little poussin, the garlic would not become sufficiently tender to spread on bread. The recipe that follows is our solution to the problem. The dish can be prepared ahead of time, in stages, and reheated at the last moment without loss of flavor or texture.
Break the garlic heads into individual cloves, peel them, and put them in a small saucepan. Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and enough olive oil to cover completely. Heat to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the cloves are tender but not soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. (The garlic will be cooked again with the chicken so the cloves shouldn’t be too soft.)
Cut each chicken breast half crosswise in half so that there are 8 quarters. Trim the thighs of excess fat. Heat half the butter and
Remove the garlic from the oil (reserve the oil for other dishes if you like). Divide the chopped herbs and garlic between the sauté pans. Add
Remove the chicken and garlic and set aside. Combine the pan juices in one pan, add the remaining stock, and cook until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the chicken and garlic to the skillet and heat through over low heat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lots of bread to sop up the juices and softened garlic.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.