Posted by: A Part of the Solution | March 20, 2012

Spring Gleaning

Just a few days ago, I headed out into the market garden and cut the last of the fall cabbages. Each of them ranged in size from 1 inch to 4 inches. Then I circled back to the house garden. We’d just pulled up the last of the Rainbow Lacinato Kale before plowing and tilling the field. I cut the still fresh leaves from the center of each plant.

Then I went down to the cellar. I grabbed ten heads of garlic, and onions still resting on their frames from when we pulled them in the autumn. I also brought up a couple pounds of German Butterball potatoes, another root cellaring through the winter here. We’d picked up a chicken at the butcher’s in town–a bird born and raised in one of the zip codes contiguous with our butcher’s shop.

We enjoyed our dinner tremendously. We had Roasted Chicken with 40 cloves (or 100 to be exact) of garlic. We had baby cabbages and hearts of kale sautéed with onions (and dickied up with a splash of vermouth, a drizzle of Asian fish sauce and a short shot of shoyu). We had baked potatoes. Here’s the recipe for the chicken.

Roasted Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

1 chicken, about 4 lbs

4-10 heads of garlic, papery layers rubbed off, cloves separated.

1 lemon

2 carrots, broken into 3 pieces each

2 stalks of celery, broken into 3 pieces each

1 large onion, peeled and quartered

salt and pepper

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set an oven rack to the middle run. Put a  (flame safe, like enamel on iron) deep casserole dish, large enough to hold the chicken, on a burner. Heat the casserole. Dry the chicken. Salt and pepper the cavity and the skin of the chicken. Insert ten cloves of garlic and the lemon into the cavity of the chicken. Make a bed of the garlic and the aromatic vegetables in the bottom of the casserole when the rim of the dish is hot to the touch. Put the chicken in the casserole with a wing and leg facing up. Set the casserole in the oven and the timer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, rotate the chicken 180°, so that the wing and leg which were on the bottom are now on the top and vice versa. Put the casserole back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Now pull the casserole from the oven and rotate the chicken 90°, so that the breast is facing up and the wings and legs are on the sides (classic roasted chicken asana). Let the bird have 30 more minutes. You’re looking for crisp, browned skin and an internal reading on the thickest part of the thigh of 175°. Let the bird rest 10 minutes on a cutting board.

Meanwhile, strain all the liquids from the casserole and reserve them. Set the garlic cloves in a small dish to bring to the table. Discard the remaining aromatics. Return the liquid to the casserole and set it on a burner over medium flame. Stir 1 TBSP cornstarch into 2 TBSP water. When the liquid in the casserole is boiling, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Continue whisking until the cornstarch is thoroughly incorporated. Let the pan gravy reduce somewhat as it continues to boil for around 5-8 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary ( a little acid? squeeze some juice from the chicken’s lemon a little salt? a little pepper?).

Joint and/or slice the chicken. Pass the gravy and the roasted garlic cloves with it.

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