Roast Chicken with Garlic and Saffron Nage

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:


    Main-course Servings

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Garlic and saffron work well together in virtually any situation, including in sauces for chicken or seafood. Here, garlic is roasted in the skin and the pulp, once squeezed out, is used to emulsify the sauce. A small amount of lecithin and Ultra-Sperse 3, worked into the garlic purée, facilitate and stabilize the emulsion with chicken stock and chicken juices from the deglazed roasting pan.

Normally the saffron might be added directly to the emulsified sauce, but here, the elements are deconstructed and the saffron is instead enclosed in tiny spheres. In this way, as the diner sips the thickened broth, the saffron aroma and flavor are released only after the spheres are gently crushed against the roof of the mouth.


roasting chicken (4 lb/2 kg), trussed 1 1
garlic head, broken into cloves, unpeeled 1 1
chicken stock or jus cups 375 ml
powdered lecithin 4 g
Ultra-Sperse 3 2 to 4 g
saffron threads, soaked for an hour in 1 tsp (5 ml) water 1 pinch 0.2 g
salt and pepper to taste to taste
calcium gluconate 8 g
sodium alginate 3 g
cold distilled water 2 cups 500 ml


  1. Surround the chicken with the garlic cloves in a roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken and garlic in a single layer. Roast in a hot oven. If at any point the garlic threatens to burn, add about a cup (250 milliliters) water to the roasting pan. Keep a close eye.
  2. Scoop the garlic cloves out into a strainer. Degrease the juices in the pan and deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup (250 milliliters) of the chicken stock. Strain and reserve the deglazing liquid.
  3. Use a small ladle to work the garlic pulp through the strainer into a small mixing bowl to get rid of the peels. Blend in the lecithin and the Ultra-Sperse 3 until smooth. If necessary, work the purée with an immersion blender to dissolve the lecithin and Ultra-Sperse 3. If the purée is too stiff to work, add a little of the reserved deglazing liquid.
  4. Whisk the reserved deglazing liquid into the garlic purée a bit at a time until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Combine the saffron and its soaking liquid with the remaining ½ cup (125 milliliters) chicken stock. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Blend in the calcium gluconate until completely dissolved.
  6. In a 1-quart (1 liter) bowl or beaker, dissolve the sodium alginate in the distilled water. Set up two additional bowls filled with cold tap water with which to rinse the spheres once they come out of the setting solution.
  7. Use a Finnpipette to sprinkle drops of the saffron solution into the sodium alginate solution (see Strainers). Give the globules about 90 seconds to set, then scoop them out with a skimmer (with a screen) or small strainer and transfer them to the first bowl of cold water. Gently stir the water to dissolve any remaining sodium alginate. Transfer to the second bowl of cold water to reserve.
  8. When ready to serve, arrange a piece of chicken in each of four wide soup bowls. Heat the reserved garlic-deglazing liquid mixture while stirring. Do not let it come to a boil or you may denature the lecithin. The sauce should have a frothy, creamy consistency. Spoon the saffron spheres into the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and ladle over the chicken.