Garlic, garlic, and a side of garlic—guaranteed to keep unwanted interpersonal contact at bay. Or you may want to think of it as the dinner partners’ ultimate expression of you-and-me-against-the-world love. We suggest a simple green salad on the side or after the meal.
What to buy: You’ll need 3 heads of garlic for this recipe.
Game plan: We learned from Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café in San Francisco that salting the chicken up to 1 day in advance makes for crispy skin. It really does work, so feel free to give the chicken a liberal sprinkle a day before you cook!
- 1Mash together the chopped head of garlic, thyme, salt, and olive oil. Season with pepper and set aside.
For the chicken and garlic jus:
- 1Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Remove the bag of giblets from inside the chicken and discard everything but the neck. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Season well with salt. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to stuff.
- 2When ready to stuff, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place on a cutting board. Remove the first two sections of the wings, leaving the third bone attached. Reserve the wings with the neck. Carefully slide your fingers underneath the skin on each breast, thigh, and at the neck to loosen the skin.
- 3Evenly distribute the garlic paste under the skin and inside the chicken cavity. Slice off the top of the whole head of garlic, season with salt and pepper, and rub with a little olive oil. Place the garlic inside the cavity with 5 sprigs of the thyme. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine. Rub the skin with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
- 4Toss the unpeeled garlic cloves, lemon wedges, celery pieces, remaining thyme sprigs, and reserved wings and neck with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mound this mixture in the center of a roasting pan. Place the chicken on top of the mound, breast side down. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- 5Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and turn the bird breast side up.
- 6Return the pan to the oven and reduce the heat to 375°F. Continue roasting for 25 minutes more. In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth with the wine and pour this over the chicken. Continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven (but leave the oven on for toasting the croutons).
- 7Place the chicken on a clean cutting board and allow to rest while you finish the jus. Remove the lemon wedges from the roasting pan and discard. Pour the contents of the roasting pan into a medium saucepan and add the remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth. Cut the string off the drumsticks, remove the garlic head from the chicken’s cavity, and place it in the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, skimming away the fat as it rises to the surface. Strain this mixture, reserving several of the whole garlic cloves to serve with each portion of chicken. Keep the jus warm.
For the garlic croutons:
- 1Brush the bread slices with the olive oil on both sides. While you carve the chicken, toast the bread in the oven until crisp.
- 2When the croutons are toasted, rub the surface of each with the cut end of a raw garlic clove.
- 3To serve, place a crouton in a shallow bowl and top with a piece of chicken. Pour some jus over top and garnish with several of the reserved cooked garlic cloves. Serve extra garlic toasts on the side.
White: A full-bodied Rhône-style white has the stuffing to take on both the chicken and the robust garlic component of this dish. We like the 2004 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, made with Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul.
Red: Copious amounts of garlic, along with the sweet nuances of thyme, beg for a juicy, Grenache-based red. Try something inexpensive and fruit-driven from the South of France, like the 2005 Vacqueyras from Domaine de Montvac.