Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chicken Master

I used to have a big chicken phobia. I was a chicken chicken. It's not that I wouldn't eat chicken - I adore it. It's just that I stuck to the breasts. Boneless and skinless breasts. It doesn't get any easier - all you have to do is cook it and eat. Now it is true you need a knife and fork, but at least you don't have to do any precooking knife work. One of my New Years Resolutions was to be a little more adventurous with chicken - and I have!

Step 1: Cook a whole chicken. Everyone told me it was easy, but I was scared. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I now love making whole chickens because a little seasoning and throw it in the oven - voila! You don't even need to watch it like baked or stovetop chicken. Perfect.

Step 2: Chicken thighs. Cheaper than breasts and they come in boneless skinless varieties too. Why did I never try them? Because I'm not a huge fan of dark meat. However, I have learned that if you're cutting it up and preparing it as a stirfry, in a sauce, or as tikka masala this is easy to work with and tastes just as good.

Step 3: Cutting up a whole chicken. Notice I saved this for last. This seemed like a daunting task. Especially when I asked for advice and people recommended I buy my chicken already cut up. That's never a good sign. However, I also got a recommendation to use Joy of Cooking or Fanny Farmer. Genius. I completely forgot about Fanny Farmer. When I moved out on my own, my mom tucked this book into one of my boxes and it has been a serious godsend because it covers EVERYTHING including what parts of meats come from where on anuimals adn of course, how to cut up a whole chicken. With pictures! So with a little help from Fanny I went from this:

to this:

I used this cut up chicken to make another popular What's Cooking Dish - Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. The original serves 8, but since there are just 2 of us I cut in in half (I mean you can't really make less than 1 whole chicken) This is some seriously good chicken. It might be my new favorite. Seriously. Warning - it's not a quick dish (Sorry SD and Claire), but it is sooo worth it. The chicken itself is just so flavorful from the roasting with fresh herbs (rosemary and chicken are always a surefire combo). If that's not enough, the sauce is just warm, garlicy and downright amazing. It's such a perfect fall dish because it leaves you (and the kitchen, and your apartment if its as small as mine) all roasty and toasty. Jon went back for seconds which in our household means we have a new winner.

Chicken with 20 cloves of garlic (adapted from Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic)
1 chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
20 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
1/2 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
Zest of 1 lemon
1/8 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room
temperature, cut into pieces

1) Preheat an oven to 400°F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a wide Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the chicken, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

2) Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

3) Add the chicken, rosemary, thyme and lemon zest and stir to combine. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken with the accumulated juices. Continue roasting, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes more.

4) Transfer the chicken to a platter; leave the garlic in the pan. Cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil.

5) Set the pan over medium heat and mash the garlic with the back of a spoon. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes. Add the stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the sauce to a sauceboat. Serve the chicken immediately and pass the sauce alongside.


  1. I'm a chicken chicken too.... I have yet to cut up a chicken. Maybe one day I'll be as brave as you. Good job!!!

  2. This sounds and looks SO good. Maybe I'll try this some lazy Sunday... :)

  3. I may have to try this one. I love garlic and chicken. :)

  4. That first chicken pic is too funny.

    I love that this recipe has 40 cloves.

  5. i have had the same chicken phobia and have been telling myself i'm going to roast a whole chicken one of these days. i think this post might have inspired to finally just do it already! ha!