CHICKEN WITH 40 GARLIC CLOVES

This easy chicken dish, from Alice Waters' fantastic new cookbook Art of Simple Food II, is just the kind of comforting one-pot main that calls my name this time of year. The chicken is tender, moist and infused with a subtle herby garlic flavor - plus all those roasted garlic cloves are heavenly squeezed onto little toasts. And oh my is the sauce delish... you can't help but mop it up with a smile on your face.

As Alice suggests, you'll only need a simple arugula salad (or sauteed spinach) and some toasted bread on the side and you're done. Family meal accomplished.

INGREDIENTS from Alice Waters' Art of Simple Food II

  • 4 chicken legs, or one whole chicken cut into pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 40 unpeeled cloves garlic (from 3-4 heads)
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme¬†
  • 1 bay leaf
  • for serving: toasted slices of crusty bread {Bay Area GF folks: Mariposa baguettes are quite nice here}; simple arugula salad or sauteed spinach

Note: If possible, generously season the chicken with salt and pepper the night before cooking.

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. First, deeply brown the skin side of the chicken - 10-12 minutes. Flip the pieces and brown the underside for another 4 minutes or so. (In order not to crowd the chicken pieces, I do the browning in a couple of batches.)

Preheat oven to 375.

While the chicken is browning, separate garlic cloves leaving their skins on but removing excess papery skins. Place 40 individual garlic cloves in the bottom of a lidded baking dish. Add thyme sprigs, a bay leaf and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat.

When the chicken is nicely browned, nestle it on top of the garlic and herbs. Cover the pan with foil, then the lid. Place pan on the middle rack of your hot oven. After 50 minutes, take off the lid and foil and let the chicken cook another 10 minutes to crisp the skin a bit.

Serve slices of toasted rustic bread with the chicken to dip into the delectable juices in the bottom of the pan. Yum!

SERVES 4

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