Food Friday: Impressive Garlic Chicken


In April Mr. Friday and I had dinner with old friends. We chattered and caught up, drinking good wine and eating delicious homemade nibbles. I have always have store-bought hummus. It has never occurred to me to whip it up myself. Get yourself to the kitchen. Start impressing people!

Dinner was a divine surprise: a garlic chicken casserole. I still have photos on my phone recording the moment when Tom used a large screwdriver to pry apart the dough seal that lined the rim of the enormous cast iron casserole. Cue the FX department. A triumphant march accompaniment would have been appropriate. A hot, streaming cloud ballooned, filling the kitchen with delightful garlic and chicken auras, and then dissipated to reveal a chicken casserole that was worthy of Julia Child. It was deelish.

Tom followed a Dorie Greenspan recipe for Garlic Chicken in a Pot. I always think of Dorie Greenspan as being a baker, so perhaps I need to expand my reading matter. Here is a video of her explaining patiently to television folk about the adaptability of the recipe:

Last weekend we faced a conundrum: what to serve a guest for dinner. Actually, it was Mr. Friday trying to find a recipe to cook in his new cast iron, 6-quart casserole dish. He regarded me scornfully when I suggested Vivian Howard’s Chicken Rice meal. Too easy. (I love it, and will be making it this weekend. Here is the recipe so you can make it, too: Spaghetti, perhaps? More scorn and derision. And as he thought, he remembered our friend Tom’s tour de force dinner from April. And we rooted around the Internets and found the very Dorie Greenspan recipe.

Garlic Chicken In A Pot
By Dorie Greenspan

4 servings
 1 hour 30 minutes

½ salt-preserved lemon, rinsed well
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup olive oil
16 small peeled potatoes (white or sweet) or 2 large peeled potatoes, each cut into 8 pieces
16 small onions or shallots, peeled and trimmed
8 carrots, peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery, trimmed and quartered
4 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs Italian parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
1 chicken, whole or cut up
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup white wine
About 1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove zest from preserved lemon and cut zest into small squares; save pulp for another use. Bring 1 cup water and the sugar to a boil, drop in zest and cook 1 minute; drain and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until brown on all sides. (If necessary, do this in 2 batches.) Spoon vegetables into a 4 1/2- to 5-quart lidded Dutch oven and stir in herbs and lemon zest.
Return skillet to heat, add another tablespoon of oil and brown chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks. Tuck chicken into casserole, surrounding it with vegetables. Mix together the broth, wine and remaining olive oil and pour it over chicken and vegetables.
Mix flour with enough hot water (about 3/4 cup) to make a malleable dough. On a floured surface, work dough into a sausage; place dough on rim of casserole. Press lid onto dough to seal casserole. Bake 55 minutes. To break seal, work the point of a screwdriver between pot and lid. If chicken is whole, quarter it. Chicken may be served in the pot or arranged with vegetables on a serving platter.

Thank you, New York Times.

One caveat, our grocery store did not stock salt-preserved lemons. So we had another Internets scramble until we found Mark Bittman’s recipe for a quick salt-preserved lemon recipe. Here is his video: (If you have problems viewing the video – what I did as the sous chef was – I had three organic lemons [non-waxed], which I washed well. Then I sliced the lemons, removed the seeds, and chopped the lemon slices. I put the chopped lemons in a cute Ball jar I found in the pantry, and added 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of Maldon salt. 2:1 ratio, in case you are using art major math. And now we have a beautiful glowing jar of salt-preserved lemons on the top shelf of the fridge, which I admire daily.)

And Mr. Friday did play around with the flexibility of the recipe – he added some parsnips that were lingering in the vegetable bin, used only two full heads of garlic – and as it is, there is still a whiff of garlic in corners of the house five days later, in case you wondered. And he used 1 cut-up chicken, because we just couldn’t fathom how to brown a whole chicken in a skillet. Not without incurring some major kitchen disasters…

As sous chef I was also assigned dough preparation, which was much more enjoyable than chopping lemons. It was fun to roll the dough out into a long rope, without worrying if it would rise and be edible, unlike some of my latest bread experiments. It sealed the casserole quite nicely, and Mr. Friday was afforded his own steamy moment of triumph when he took a screwdriver and prised the top from the bottom. Bon appétit, indeed!

“The chicken does not exist only in order to produce another egg. He may also exist to amuse himself, to praise God, and even to suggest ideas to a French dramatist.”
― G.K. Chesterton

About Jean Sanders

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