What’s Cookin’ – Casserole Roasted Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

I stock my freezer with whole chickens when they go on sale in the grocery store.  I also buy whole cloves of garlic in bulk at our local Sam’s Club.  Even if I don’t use them all up before they start to dry up, it’s still cheaper than buying them by the head in our local grocery store.

When I was looking for something to make for dinner recently, I decided to make one of my good old standby meals from the Joy of Cooking cookbook, Copyright © 1997 – Casserole-Roasted Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic.  That is because I had a nice sized roaster (almost 6 pounds!) in the freezer, several heads of garlic nearing the end of their useful life, and a nice cool day outside so that I felt like I could have the oven on for a few hours.

My son-in-law likes to make this, too.  We love roasted chicken in our family, but roasted garlic is also very yummy.  You can pinch the roasted garlic right out of the peels, and it has a nice nutty flavor.

This isn’t really a week night meal for a working family, but if you are going to be around for a few hours late in the afternoon and get the chicken ready to go in the morning or the night before, you will not be disappointed.  My family likes their roasted chicken with Rice Pilaf, but it would also be lovely with some mashed potatoes along with a green vegetable or salad.

Casserole Roasted Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves – ingredients.

You will also need a casserole, large enough to hold a whole chicken, with a lid and, ideally, one that can go from oven to stovetop.  A Dutch oven (mine is an enamel version) works perfectly.

Prepare the chicken by cleaning, rinsing, and drying making sure to remove any bags of innards from the cavities.  After the chicken is cleaned you will need to salt and pepper the large cavity and insert an entire lemon that has been cut into segments.  Coat the outer skin with olive oil and rub with your spice mixture.

Note on the spice mixture – Joy of Cooking recommends combining sage, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper and rubbing over the oiled bird.  I use whatever I have on hand that sounds good.  Sage is wonderful on chicken, but I had a Penzeys Spices blend called Sunny Paris (thanks to my sister who buys these for me) that is good on poultry and that is what I used.  Bottom line – use what flavors you like on chicken remembering that you do not want to overwhelm the garlic flavor.

Place the prepared chicken into your casserole or Dutch oven, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours.

You can see that I tied the legs together.  It’s not a necessary step, but I find that the bird cooks a little more evenly with this simple trussing, and it also helps to keep the lemons inside the bird.

You can easily get this far the night before or early in the morning.  Then you will just have to allow a few hours roasting time in the oven prior to serving.

Break up four whole heads of garlic into individual cloves, but do not remove the peels.  For a standard sized bird (3 to 4 pounds), you will need about 2 ½ cups of liquid.

Interesting note on the garlic cloves – most heads of garlic have 10 cloves or a few more.  I used four heads of garlic and ended up with about 44 cloves of garlic.  So, really the recipe should read Casserole Roasted Chicken with About 40 Cloves of Garlic.

I had a large bird (over 6 pounds!) so I had about 3 cups of liquid ready to go.  I also used more than what the recipe called for on the spices, salt, and pepper.  The original recipe calls for a mix of chicken stock and dry white wine.  You can use all chicken stock if you have no wine on hand.

It’s not an exact science.  Make adjustments for what you have on hand.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Pour the liquid into the casserole and add the cloves of unpeeled garlic.  Place the casserole into the oven, uncovered.  Once the liquid comes to a boil, cover and roast for 25 minutes.

Increase the oven to 450° F, uncover the casserole, and roast until done approximately 35 to 60 minutes.  Add additional chicken stock or wine if necessary to maintain liquid in the bottom of the casserole.  Skim fat off the top if necessary.

Test for doneness using an instant read meat thermometer.  If the breast registers 160° F, it will continue to cook out of the oven to the desired temperature of 170° F after resting for about 10 minutes.  An alternate method to test for doneness is to prick the thigh with a knife and if the juices run clear, the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken and garlic from the casserole, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.  Cook the liquid remaining in the casserole along with some of the roasted garlic (remove from the peels and mash) until you have reduced it to a nice sauce.  Season with salt, pepper, and additional herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.), if desired.

Casserole Roasted Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic – baked and ready to eat.

Serve the chicken with the sauce and the garlic cloves.  The roasted garlic can be pinched out of the peels and eaten.  It has a nice nutty flavor that is not strong or garlicky.  The chicken will be moist and flavorful.


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