I’m a big fan of James Beard’s Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. The long cook sweetens the garlic and makes it soft for spreading on crusty French bread.
I didn’t used to peel the garlic (here is video of a quick way to peel a head of garlic). Over time, though, I’ve found that if the garlic is peeled first, it is a lot less messy at the table and makes it easy to just stick an immersion blender in the juices at the bottom of the dish to make a terrific pan sauce.
As much as I honor James Beard, I have changed the recipe a bit (besides making it in the crock pot versus oven). I substitute sherry for vermouth (or use a dry white wine) and use thyme instead of tarragon.
Because I am feeling particularly lazy today, I will add potatoes to the pot to absorb the lovely garlic flavor and keep me from having to roast them separately. I’m using small, gold potatoes but any will do as long as they’re a uniform size.
Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
4lb chicken cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup olive oil
40 cloves garlic, peeled
4 ribs celery, diced
2 medium onions, chopped
8 to 12 Yukon gold potatoes, halved
1/3 cup sherry (or dry vermouth)
1/2 cup water
Season chicken on all sides with salt, pepper and dried thyme. Add the oil to a skillet over high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from skillet when brown and toss the garlic cloves into the hot pan. Stir to coat with oil and cook just until you can smell the fragrant garlic.
Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with a mixture of the celery, onions and potatoes. Set browned chicken over top. Pour the sherry and water over the chicken then pour over the garlic cloves and oil. Cover and cook over low heat for 3 hours without removing the lid. Check chicken for doneness and stir to make sure all the garlic is cooking and continue for another hour, if necessary.
Remove the chicken and potatoes. Pull out about 5 cloves of garlic per person. Using a regular blender or an immersion blender, puree the pan juices, garlic, celery and onion.
Serve chicken with sauce alongside slices of French bread. Spread the garlic like butter on the bread and eat with the chicken.