Friday, January 9, 2009

Allow me to introduce…

… my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.

I love it so much, I feel like I should name her... something French... any suggestions?

I got it last year for Christmas. I asked for one… sort of.

These were my explicit instructions to dear hubby: I want a cast-iron, ceramic-coated Dutch Oven. Go to a department store and buy the $50 dollar cheap version. Do not buy the French one, it is very expensive.

Naturally, I lost him after “Dutch oven.” He went to Williams and Sonoma, where as you may know, they do not sell the “cheap” version of anything. He marveled at the beautiful colors and picked Mustard Yellow. I considered, quite briefly, returning it. But it is so beautiful and heavy and French and mustardy yellow, that I could not bring myself to do it. Plus, since I like to cook there is something about having a top of the line pot, just like the pros, that makes cooking more fun. I don’t do designer handbags, but $200 pots and I am like a fool. If I had lots of extra money I would buy an All Clad stainless steel cookware set… they’re somewhere near $1000 (maybe I don't need all those pieces though). That’s right, I am a kitchen snob. If All-Clad ever wants to advertise on a blog that no one reads: THIS is the one. (or maybe they just did... for free... dammit)

So, I have since been hunting for recipes to use my precious Dutch Oven… you know so the purchase is justified. This one I found, before even getting the pot, but it’s the one that made having the pot feel like “a must”: “Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.” That’s right, 40 cloves—about three heads of the bulbous root. The beauty is that you don’t have to peel it. Obviously, liking garlic is imperative for this recipe. And we do! We are veritable garlic freaks.

I think I like this recipe so much because it reminds me of the Garlic Chicken (Pollo al ajo) my husband and I used to eat at this little Spanish restaurant in a lovely little corner of Santiago. So I thought I would include the recipe for you to try out one day. If I ever find a recipe that reminds me of their Sangría, I will share that too. I think I got this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I can’t remember now, so my apologies in advance for any copyright infringements. This is the abridged version to make it easier and quicker.

It is also a great recipe for using that vermouth you bought to make martini’s, because they sounded so cool, and then you made one and it was nasty and you decided that martini’s were for wanna-be cosmopolites OR that you had just not made it right or with the right quality of ingredients. I’m not saying that this is why I have vermouth… it just makes sense that it might be true for someone. You can also use white wine, but I recommend the vermouth. If you don’t drink alcohol… lighten up and just go buy it… it is just for cooking. All the alcohol evaporates. It is for flavor and you will not regret it.

Without further ado…here you have the recipe for garlic heaven…

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
Serve with a baguette, roast potatoes, and asparagus. (or whatever you want--It goes great with rice too)

Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Olive oil
8-10 pieces of chicken trimmed of excess fat. (the recipe called for a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces… but seriously people, who buys a whole chicken and cuts it into pieces anymore. I just used some drumsticks and thighs)
3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
2 sprigs fresh thyme / 1 sprig fresh rosemary / 1 bay leaf
3/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (go for the vermouth)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, an additional 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper. (Original recipe calls for brining for 30 minutes in a salt-water solution. I tried that the first time but just seasoned the chicken the second time and it turns out fine, you don’t have to handle the raw-nasty chicken so much, and it is quicker.)

Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-2 T olive oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet (or Dutch Oven) over medium-high heat. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.

Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees (or until juices run clear), 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil to crisp skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. (I served it as is, the garlic is like butter and just slips out of the skin and the sauce is just lovely as is. You can go an extra step and do the following sauce, but it just seemed time-consuming and unnecessary to me)

Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into sauceboat and serve.


Aly @ Lip Zip said...

Well look at you! I have so many recipes that call for a Dutch Oven, I really should get one. Maybe I could get you to talk to my husband since you seem to have a knack for getting a top of the line one!

anymommy said...

Amelie - it's my favorite French name. That is one pretty pot!

moseyalong said...


And now all you need, to have attained true mommy recipe blogdom, is a lovely photo of said recipe bubbling away in Fifi.