Saturday, January 4, 2014

Do you like garlic? But, do you like, really like it? Really, really?

40 Cloves Garlic Pot Roasted Chicken

I am a self confessed garlic lover. I give it up, I should attend Garlic Lovers Anonymous or something. I think the classic pairings people put with garlic are unbeatable. You've got your onion and garlic, the basis for most dinners, garlic and rosemary, garlic and chilli etc. etc. It's such a beautiful thing. I do, however, think that garlic possesses a taste and smell which divides people, and can really change situations. Take these scenarios for example and see how the smell alone can affect you differently, dependent on what's happening:

Scenario 1: you are super hungry, it's dinner time, you're with friends, a garlic and rosemary sauce is cooking away. The aroma of dinner is so welcoming and delicious, you start salivating.

Scenario 2: You have invited a young gentleman over for an evening of films and erchatting. He's just woofed down a garlic and herb chicken kiev from IcelandHe smells like death and everything he says annoys you.

It's a tricky one. I've made the mistake of overestimating my garlic tolerance level before, when I decided to put aioli on scrambled egg. Funnily enough, it left my body pretty violently, with the same consistency as it went in. I haven't put eggs with garlic mayonnaise since; I'm too scared.

ANYWHO, try to forget the image of me vomiting if you can. If you can'tsorry. I hope you wretched or pulled a squished up facial expression, and I hope at least a few of you thought I was talking about the other end*. If that was you, have a word with yourself.

*Apologies for those of you who didn't grow up in a family where discussing bowels at the dinner table was normal, but I did, so I have no issue with food and shit, or the boundaries around these topics.

For now, I'll focus on the food option.

Yeah, so garlic. It's a wonderful, bizarre little bulb of purple pockets, which explodes with such a distinct, powerful taste. Usually, you might use one or two cloves in a dish to emphasise other flavours. You might use more if you're trying to make the garlic taste itself come through. OR, you might do what I did and put 40 cloves into a pan and whack a chicken on top.

I got the idea for this from a book I flicked through at a friend's house which contained a recipe using one hundred cloves. I figured I should probably ease myself into it, using fewer cloves to begin with, as I was conscious of being single, and contemplated the idea that my breath may never actually return to acceptable levels ever again. Then there's the possible garlic sweats. I basically toyed with the idea of being a lonely, garlic reeking spinster who can't even persuade cats to live with her because every time she talks to them they hiss and run away, and decided 'perhaps I'll just be mildly revolting to others for a few days instead'. (Cue jokes about how I'm always revolting, and me responding with a witty remark about working from home and how you are just jealous.) I'm not selling this massively yet, am I? All I am saying is, maybe don't cook this meal prior to a date or if you think you will come into contact with someone who might judge you based on your smell in the following two days. If you're cooking for a family or lots of friends, you'll all reek so everyone's a winner.

First thing you need to know about this dish is that it is epic. The number of cloves is equal to about four whole bulbs


which seems scary until you think of how many one hundred would look like? See, not so bad now.

I'm assuming you've tasted the sweet, creamy nectar of roasted garlic and squeezed it out of its little pouch. It's one of those things, I think, that you'll always remember when you first tasted it. It's so delicious that you genuinely feel guilty eating it, like the garlic police are going to swing by and give you a caution for manhandling a helpless clove. This dish takes that feeling, and translates it into a one pan serial offence. The garlic is roasted slowly in white wine for about an hour, which allows it to really develop. Once the chicken is cooked, you simply squeeze all the goodness out and eat it together.

I can't really describe how rewarding it is as a meal, but I must warn you: you will feel like a garlic monster afterwards, and you'll taste it every time you burp for about a week. This dish is not to be cooked without prior consideration and, if necessary, preparation. On the plus side: vampires aren't going to come anywhere near you, and if that's disappointing to you, stop watching Twilight and go and find some friends.

Garlic & Rosemary in White Wine



40 cloves or 4 bulbs of garlic (approximately)

150ml white wine

2 or 3 sprigs of Rosemary

1 medium chicken

Handful of mushrooms

Tbsp of Philadelphia light (don't laugh, I'm being healthy)

Salt & pepper for seasoning

Knob of butter

Olive oil

* Preheat the oven to 200 or gas mark 6. Pat the chicken with kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture, then season well.

* Melt the butter and oil, then brown the chicken on all sides until golden in a casserole pan. This will be a massive pain in the arse to do, but it's worth it in the end, promise.

* Separate the garlic cloves, but don't peel them. Look at them in a slight panic as to just how many there are. Then laugh, like an evil genius.

* Remove the chicken from the pan, and put in the garlic and rosemary sprigs. Stir them around for a bit, then replace the chicken on top of the pile.

* Throw the mushrooms around the side of the chicken, and pour around the white wine.

* Put a double layer of tin foil over the pan before putting the lid on, then chuck it in the oven for 1hours.

* Take the lid and tin foil off, then return to the oven for 10 minutes or so, to crisp up the chicken skin.

* Remove the chicken and let it rest for 10 minutes. Add the Philadelphia to the pan and stir until it thickens a little.

* Serve the chicken sliced with greens and some form of potato or rice, with the garlic and mushrooms on top. Squeeze the garlic out of the cloves and enjoy. Stay away from direct contact with people for a couple of days.
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