Roast chicken with lots of garlic

There is a traditional regional dish called “poulet aux quarante gousses d’ail” – chicken with forty cloves of garlic – which often gets prepared with a sprinkling of dried herbs such as thyme, laurel leaves and a stick of celery. Sometimes the blood of the chicken and/or red wine are added.
I prefer it pure with garlic and just a hint of dried herbs.

You put the chicken in a covered dish in the oven, some go as far as sealing it hermetically with a paste made of water and flour, and when you open the dish there is a wonderful aroma while the raw garlic has turned into a paste.

There are variations on the theme with a leg of lamb, guinea fowl or pork.

But why the forty? Apparently the figure 40 often stands for a large number in the Bible and in local speak became to mean “plenty” – chicken with plenty of garlic. It is also used in the tale of “Ali Baba and the forty thieves”.
I this vein I recreated the dish, because if you are only two people then twenty cloves of garlic per person is more than you need – even though they are delicious.

I used a chicken of 1.2 kilos. If you use a larger bird for more people, you can increase the number of cloves. The garlic cloves are not peeled and I use by preference the pink garlic of Lautrec.

Ingredients

  • One chicken ready to cook
  • Two heads of garlic
  • Mixed herbs tied up in a fine cheese cloth
  • 250 ml of olive oil
  • Celery salt
  • Red pepper
  • 25 ml of lemon juice

Steps

  1. Clean the chicken inside out, remove remaining bits of feather, wash and dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 200 °C.
  2. Take an oven dish – I used a Pyrex oval dish with a well-fitting lid – and pour in the olive oil.
  3. Place the chicken in the dish.
  4. Pull the cloves from the heads of garlic and disperse them around in the dish.
  5. Put the herbs in their cloth in the dish. Squirt the lemon juice over the bird.
  6. Add some celery salt and red pepper (or any other pepper) over the bird.
  7. Close the dish. You can, if needed, seal it with a paste of water and flour.
  8. Place the dish in the oven and cook for about 90 minutes for a bird of up to 1.5 kilos, adding 10 minutes for every 200 grammes extra.
  9. Let it cool down a bit outside the oven, bring to the table and remove the lid in the presence of your guests so that they can smell the aroma.
  10. You can spread the garlic paste on bits of bread.

 


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