Fricassee of Chicken with “Forty Cloves” of Garlic

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

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.

Ingredients

  • 4 heads garlic, with large cloves
  • 4 to 6 thyme sprigs
  • 2 large or 4 small bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large whole chicken breasts, split
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • ½ cup (or as needed) unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • cups Chicken Stock

Method

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 2 tablespoons olive oil in each of 2 large sauté pans over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown on both sides until about halfway cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pans and pour off the fat and any badly burned bits, then return the chicken to the pans.

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 ½ cup stock to each, cover, and cook over low heat until the chicken is tender and the garlic is meltingly soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

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.

Variation

Use four 1-pound poussins (young chickens) or -pound Rock Cornish game hens. Brown the birds in the butter and oil in a skillet on top of the stove, then stuff with the half-cooked garlic and the herbs. Roast in a 400°F oven about 30 minutes. Just before serving, quarter the birds and heat covered on top of the stove with the garlic, herbs, and chicken stock. The sauce will not have as deep a flavor as the chicken dish, but the method is less time consuming and uses less fat in the cooking. So you gain in healthfulness what you lose in complexity of flavor. You decide.