Do you love garlic? I mean really love garlic? If the answer is yes, then oh are you in for a treat. One of my favorite dishes is French Country Forty-Clove Garlic Chicken. Leave it to the French to truly endulge!
The similarities between the two recipes is scary – they are basically the same dish. One utilizes 40 cloves of garlic (dah!), and is made with bone-in thighs. The other is made with only half the garlic, chicken bones removed while retaining that marvelous skin. By removing the bone, the thighs cook more quickly. The French Country rendition takes nearly 45 minutes to cook. This awesome dish cooks up in about 20 minutes, making is a wonderful, quick supper during the week. The traditional forty-clove chicken can be eaten straight from the pan (fun, peasant style dining), employing warm slices of French bread as a means to get the chicken and garlic from the pan to your eager lips. This interpretation of the garlic-infused chicken is served over a bed of fluffy, buttery rice pilaf. Simple with a touch of elegance.
With a few alterations such as more chicken and garlic, and suddenly what was an easy mid-week meal is transformed into a casual late night supper among friends. Pair this with a simple salad of tender greens, pears and walnuts in a vinaigrette is all that is required for a light, incredible supper. Can’t you just imagine it now – a starry summer evening spent in good company? There is a light breeze that carries with it the faint scent of jasmine kissing the night. A serenade of crickets in harmony to a soothing saxophone playing the background, muffling out the sounds of the rest of the world. Smart conversation in almost hushed voices that goes late into the night, until you are sure all the world’s problems have been resolved. This revelation comes at the conclusion of a perfectly executed meal, when a tray of imported cheeses and sweet grapes appears. And let’s not forget another bottle of wine. Don’t you know, wine is the elixir of peace-makers and problem solvers? Or at least wine imparts the illusion you have gathered the greatest peace-makers and problem solvers, and the key to all the world’s problems can be solved over a delicious meal, and conversation tuned to the inner voice of wisdom . . .
Awesome Garlic Chicken Thighs
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, skin-on and de-boned (4 thighs)
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons melted butter, divided
20 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Parsley Flakes
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
4 Cups Rice Pilaf, cooked (kept warm)
De-bone chicken thighs, leaving skin in tact. Season meaty side of thighs a coarse ground sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Place a cast iron skillet on medium heat with about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. As skillet warms, gently swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the butter is melted and just beginning to bubble, place seasoned thighs skin-side down on pan. Let chicken lay out flat.
Fry thighs in butter until nicely browned and skin begins to crisp, about 5 minutes, rotating to brown evenly.
Turn thighs and brown meat-side down until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet, drain off excess chicken grease without disturbing browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
Return skillet to heat, toss in garlic and remaining butter. Pan-fry garlic until fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Spread garlic evenly on the bottom of the skillet. Lay thighs over garlic, meat side down. Press chicken gently down over garlic.
Add wine and chicken stock. When bubbly, add a pinch of Cayenne pepper, a little salt and pepper. Reduce heat, let simmer in the pan until chicken is cooked through and wine mixture is reduced slightly, about 6-8 minutes.
Heat broiler. Sprinkle a little Parmesan Cheese over chicken skins. Garnish with a little parsley.
Place skillet under broiler and let Parmesan Cheese melt.
Spread a bed of Rice Pilaf over individual plates. Place chicken on top of rice. Divide garlic, sprinkle over each plate. Drizzle with pan drippings and serve.
Note: Boneless chicken with skin still attached is almost impossible to find. Yet the skin is an absolute must – this is non-negotiable. If you have a good boning knife, removing a thigh bone isn’t difficult. To remove the bone, simply loosen meat from around the bone as much as possible with your fingers, then slide the knife between the meat and the bone, pressing against the bone as much as possible without cutting the bone. Score the meat on either side of the bone. As you cut meat from the bone, lift the bone until it is free. (If the bone is slippery, using a paper towel will give you a better grip). Never pull or tear bone free, as it will take some of the meat with it. Work slowly if you need to (I’m not quick, just careful) until the bone is out. Or you could ask your butcher to remove the bones for you.