I discovered the beauty of a roasted chicken a couple of years ago when I came across the recipe for Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic in Wendy Stephens' The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook. I had never tried cooking a whole chicken before I found this recipe, and after seeing the look of bliss on my husband's face after eating it, I swore to make more. Whole chickens are inexpensive and surprisingly easy to roast. This easy chicken probably costs around $5-7 total to make and feeds about four people generously. We always have leftovers if it's just my husband, daughter and I...and I'll tell you tomorrow what I usually do with the leftover meat.
As for this recipe, the chicken always comes out moist and flavorful, and the garlic mellows in the roasting, making for a great little spread to eat with the chicken itself or on a piece of nice crusty bread on the side. I generally like to serve a potato (roasted, mashed, etc.) on the side because they taste so good in the garlicky chicken jus. This time I also served steamed green beans--they're so easy to make and balance out the brown and white of the chicken and potatoes.
Oh, and please don't judge me that the chicken is shown upside down! I realized what I had done once my husband started carving it...I still have a little to learn about the chicken, I guess!
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
10 g butter (1 Tbl)
1 Tbl olive oil
1 large (No. 20) free-range chicken
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 Tbl chopped fresh or dried rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dry)
275 ml (9 fl oz) dry white wine
150 ml (5 fl oz) chicken stock
225 (7 oz) plain flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You will need a 4.5 litre lidded casserole dish.
Melt the butter and oil in the casserole and brown the chicken over med heat until golden all over. Remove the chicken and add the garlic cloves, rosemary and thyme and cook together for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the dish and add the wine and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce.
Place the flour in a bowl and add up to 150 ml (5 fl oz) water to form a firm pliable paste. Divide into four and roll into cylinder shapes. Place around the rim of the casserole. Replace the lid, pressing down well to form a seal. **I've found I can skip this step if I use my heavy, cast iron Le Creuset pot, but if I'm using a lighter casserole or pan, I use the seal.
Bake for 1 ¼ hours. Remove the lid by cracking the paste. Return the chicken to the oven to brown for 15 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Reduce the juices to 1 cup over med heat. Carve the chicken, pierce the garlic skins and squeeze the garlic flesh onto the chicken. Serve with the jus.