Ina Garten! You were my hero. I trusted you. I touted your recipes. I sang your praises to anyone that would listen. But in the end, you, like all the rest, just disappoint.
I wanted to make chicken. I had the exact idea of what I wanted in my head but I didn't have a recipe for it. I wanted beautifully browned chicken pieces with crispy skin and juicy, tender meat. I wanted to smother it in a flavourful cream sauce that had shallots, and garlic, and mushrooms, and brandy, and unhealthy amounts of cream. I called Simon, thinking maybe his mental recipe Rolodex could help me out.
"That sounds good. Just make that."
"But I don't have a recipe. I need a recipe."
"You just described a recipe. Just wing it."
"Urgh. I'll keep looking."
So, I kept looking and in the end settled uncomfortably on the Barefoot Contessa's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.
It's not a bad recipe. The flavour is strong and delicious, and the colour is beautiful. It's an easy dish and turns out great. So, what went wrong? Well my friends, there is one fatal flaw at the end of this recipe:
"Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot."
Aha! "Remove the chicken...whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot." Really, Ina? Really? So I'm standing there, whisking away like a perfect little idiot, watching all of my garlic cloves dissolve into the sauce. It went from Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic to Chicken with One Clove of Garlic and Super Garlicky, Lumpy Sauce.
I'll forgive you Ina, but just this once. And only because you reveal Martha for the frigid con artist she is, and Nigella annoys the hell out of me. And for all of you actually reading this, do make this recipe because it is delicious, but for the love of god, remove your chicken and garlic cloves prior to whisking.
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
by Ina Garten, from the Food Network
3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used red)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.