The main star of the night was the Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. Really, how can you go wrong? We did have to buy garlic for the first time in ages for the recipe. My mom grows garlic in her garden to sell at Market, so we typically have garlic coming out of our ears, but this time of year can be a little lean. We used up the last of Lazy Dog Gardens’ Italian Purple a few weeks before we cooked the recipe. Even though I didn’t have the homegrown stuff, the chicken was delicious. Forty cloves sounds like a large amount for something that serves 4-6, but the cooking time mellows out the flavor. The end product is quite similar to roasted garlic.
We had to change up the procedure a little bit because we had a burner out of commission. The original recipe calls for searing the chicken pieces and then cooking everything on the stovetop. We still seared on the stovetop, but we finished the dish in the oven. We put a lid on the pan, so the juices were kept in. Once the chicken pieces were done, I pulled the chicken and half of the garlic out and set them aside covered in foil. I squeezed the remaining garlic out of its skins (the cloves are separated but not peeled) and mashed them with the pan juices. I thickened the resulting sauce and poured it over the chicken and the rice.
We served dinner with a 2007 Domaine Drouhin Arthur Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley, one of my favorite Oregon Chardonnays. The garlic pieces that were set aside can be squeezed out of their skins and smeared on the chicken or mixed with the rice. The mellow, rich flavor of garlic and herbs in the sauce complemented the wine nicely. The Arthur is aged in a combination of mostly neutral and one- and two-year old oak barrels, and it doesn’t go completely through malolactic fermentation. The resulting wine is not the typical buttery oak bomb that can be associated with Chardonnay. Rather, the fruit (apples, pears and tropical fruits like pineapple) has a chance to shine through. The barrels give the wine a richer texture than stainless steel would, and the result is a wine that is very food friendly. Both the wine and the pan sauce had similar textures in the mouth, further enhancing the meal.
Garlic harvest is typically at the end of June or beginning of July. I can’t wait to give Chicken with Forty Garlic Cloves another try with Idaho-grown fresh garlic.