And now just to prove that we do sometimes still use whole garlic cloves, here's one of the most garlic-rich recipes I know. That may not look like 40 cloves of garlic, but it's actually about 47 or 48 cloves. I doubled this recipe, but refrained from doubling the number of garlic cloves because I wanted to be sure that the neighbor kids would still play with my children. Did you know that consuming large amounts of garlic will cause it to seep through your pores in odor form? Try getting on a crowded public bus in a country where garlic is included in every meal and you'll see what I mean.
I'm not sure of the origins of this recipe, but I think it's French. I've seen many different versions. I'm almost certain I've seen one that calls for a whole chicken cooked in a crock pot (with, of course, the 40-odd cloves). It's a lovely, simple meal. Bob and I have searched for a great garlic chicken recipe since I took him to Mr. B's restaurant in New Orleans six or so years ago. At the time, he couldn't believe that I was ordering chicken at a world-class restaurant (I had been there before on business trips). But after he tasted it, he was won over and has been a raving garlic chicken fan ever since. I can't say this even comes close to Mr. B's, but it has a wonderful flavor and is relatively easy to whip up. Here's what the dish looks like after it's finished:
Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
40 cloves of garlic, separated and peeled
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (I didn't have any parsley on hand, so I omitted it. It is, after all, a garnish).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place trimmed and halved chicken breasts in a large zip loc bag. Pound the meat flat with a mallet until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Season with sea salt, black pepper and thyme to taste (the fresh thyme in our garden is going crazy, so I substituted it for the dry. It was lovely).
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. In batches, saute the chicken smooth side down first until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the breasts and cook for 45 seconds, then remove to a baking dish. Once all the chicken has been cooked, add the garlic to the skillet. Lower the heat and saute for 3-4 minutes, turning often. Add the chicken stock, making sure to scrape all the brown goodies off the bottom of the pan. Season with salt, pepper and thyme if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Once the chicken has baked, carefully remove the meat and garlic cloves to a platter and cover with an aluminum foil tent to keep it warm. Place the sauce in the large skillet used to cook the meat. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk with a little bit of the sauce. Once it's thoroughly mixed, slowly whisk the flour mixture back into the rest of the sauce. Add the butter to the sauce, increase the heat and boil for three minutes or until it's nice and thick. Taste and re-season if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.