Thursday, August 2, 2012

French Provencal roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic (Poulet aux 40 Gousses d'Ail)

I first ate this dish in one of the rustic French restaurant in Singapore. I fell in love with it. This dish is simple, straightforward without fancy ingredients, yet packed with flavour and is very satisfying. The name of the dish which really uses forty cloves of garlic certainly sound like a lot, but slow cooking mellows and caramalises the garlic to a creamy sweetness.


Don't be scared off with the number of cloves of garlic, you will definitely not have strong garlic breath after eating as well. Garlic cloves are nutty and mellow when cooked whole. Once you try this dish, you may say that forty cloves are not enough and end up adding even more garlic, because they are so delicious.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic is traditionally baked or cooked in an earthenware dish. So at home, I used the claypot to cook this dish and simmer it over a low fire. You can really taste the wine and the sweetness of the onions and garlic in the sauce. Serve with good bread. Heavenly!

1 big chicken, approx 1.6 kg
40 cloves of garlic
1 big onion, cut to quarters
1/2 to 3/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
salt & pepper to taste
Boil a kettle of water to scald the 40 cloves of garlic for easy removal. After a couple of minutes, and viola, the skins of the garlic are easy peasy to peel.
Cut the chicken into big pieces. Put some oil in a shallow pan and fry the pieces till golden brown. Dish up and set aside. Do not discard the remaining oil yet.
In a big claypot, arrange half the chicken on the bottom, then stack with half the garlic pieces, half of the amount of onion pieces. one bay leaf and some thyme leaves. Layer again with the other half of the chicken pieces, onion, garlic and the herbs.
Pour in the white wine and chicken stock.
Cover and bring to boil in a medium heat.
When the stock boils, bring the heat to low and slowly simmer for one and a half hours.
Season with salt and pepper.Serve with a good crusty bread and a salad.


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