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Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to the Routine

I don't know about all of you, but frankly I'm glad it's January 3rd.  It was great having everyone around over the holidays, but I'm ready to get back to something resembling a routine.  I feel like I've spent the last couple of weeks just trying to stay one step ahead, and I haven't been very successful at it.

So now that Charlie has gone back to college, Kate has gone back to high school, and Ted has gone back to the office, I can go back to being the organized person I always wish I could be.  And, for me, being organized means getting the laundry done, the house cleaned up, and dinner prepared before I leave to take Kate to tennis in the afternoon.

It's sunny but very cold here today.  It's a good night for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.  I have to tell you, it's so easy and so completely satisfying that it's the kind of meal I look forward to all day.  It doesn't take long to put together and it tastes far more complicated than it actually is.  Some mashed potatoes to sop up the sauce, green beans, and a salad, now that's what I think of when I think of cold weather food.

So, that's what we're having for dinner tonight.  How about you?

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
(Adapted from Barefoot in Paris, 2004)

Note:  I am lazy.  Because this recipe calls for so much garlic, I actually buy it at Costco already peeled.  Also, My family mostly likes white meat, so I usually have the butcher give a four half breasts and four thighs instead of the 2 whole chickens.


40 cloves of garlic (approximately)
2 whole chickens, cut into eighths or see note
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Dry the chicken with paper towels.  Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the butter and the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.  Turn with tongs; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork.  If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium.  When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches.  Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all the garlic to the pot.  Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned.  Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.  Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30-45 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a plater and cover with foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whick together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot.  Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of the Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve.

One more note:  I make this whole thing earlier in the day.  Once it is cooked, I refrigerate it, covered, and then when it's time for dinner, I reheat it slowly over a medium low heat and serve it directly from the pot.

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