One of my favourite ways of cooking chicken is to pot-roast it with as much garlic as you can tuck into the pot with the bird. The end result is not at all as overpowering as the amount of garlic might suggest. And the carcass makes a wonderfully flavoured chicken and garlic broth for the next day. Of course, you do not have to use exactly 40 cloves of garlic, 20 or 30 will do – or 60!
Separate and peel the garlic cloves, and put to one side. Remove any excess fat from the chicken cavity and neck. Rub the chicken all over with lemon juice, and put the half lemon inside the cavity. Lightly season the bird inside and out, and put the tarragon inside. Heat the butter and oil in a large flameproof casserole, and brown the chicken all over. Pour on the cognac and light it. When the flames have died down, tuck the garlic cloves around and under the chicken, and pour on the wine. Cover and cook in a preheated oven at 190°C / 375°F / Mark 5 for about 1½ hours. The chicken can be served as it is with the clear juices and whole garlic cloves or a creamy sauce can be made by blending the two together.
Use diced apple with only 10 cloves of garlic and calvados instead of the 40 cloves of garlic and the cognac.
Make a sweet and sour version by omitting the tarragon, using Muscat wine, and sprinkling with sorrel leaves.
Remove the chicken from the casserole after browning it, and line the casserole with vine leaves. Put in some pitted olives, a handful of herbs and about 20 garlic cloves before returning the chicken to the pot. Do not add any further garlic, but simply flame the chicken in cognac, pour on the wine, and continue as in the recipe above.
Fresh ripe tomatoes and new season’s garlic cloves make a good bed on which to pot-roast a chicken. When cooked, the garlic and tomatoes can be rubbed through a sieve to make a sauce.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.