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Last night I made Alton Brown's "40 Cloves and a Chicken". It was, I believe, superb. The chicken stays incredibly tender and moist, and the garlic cloves melt down to the consistency of warm butter, perfect for smashing on a nice piece of warm baguette.

The real beauty of the recipe is its simplicity - the hardest part was "octo-sect"ing the the chicken. I remain baffled by the correct way to take apart poultry, and wish an expert could show me some tips - it's just not the kind of thing you can learn from a book. Sort of like this guy I knew in High School who swore he was a "Black Belt equivalent" because he'd read a lot of books on karate, but never gone to a class - trying to follow written instructions on how to dismember a creature is just difficult if not impossible. One simply ends up posturing about expertise, without actually being much of a threat to man or chicken.

But, once this is accomplish (or if you've bought chicken parts pre-butchered, leaving it and kicking ass to the experts) all you need do is brown the chicken with salt, pepper and 3 tbps of olive oil in a deep pan. Then throw in 40 cloves of garlic, some thyme, and 1/2 cup of olive oil ..cover and put it in the oven at 350 for 90 minutes. Voila. You probably have all the ingredients at home right now, except for the chicken and the kung-fu instruction manuals.

I highly recommend it, and I can tell it will be a go-to favorite in the future.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 17th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
It was amazing!
Mar. 17th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
My parents love Alton recipes! We've been using his brine for the last 3 Thanksgivings.
Mar. 17th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
I'm slowly learning how to butcher fowl, but it takes practice and more practice, and then some practice.
Mar. 17th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
I just don't have sufficient chicken-antipathy to murder fowl for the purpose of practice, and not eating.
Mar. 18th, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
You can... you can eat it when you're done butchering it, you know. It's made of food.
Mar. 18th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
I suppose I don't use chicken often enough to count as "practice".
Mar. 18th, 2010 10:44 am (UTC)
That gives me a wonderful idea.
Mar. 18th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
I thought of you while considering the possibility.
Mar. 18th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
Sounds amazing. My mouth is watering to the point of embarrassment.
Mar. 18th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
The secret to butchering poultry is to invest in a good deba. Preferably blue paper steel, if you can afford it.
Mar. 18th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
I have a really gorgeous knife. It's so sharp it'd cut a bad idea, and so sturdy you could drop it from a plane and it would just julienne whatever it landed on. The problem lies entirely with the skill of the wielder.

Oh, for five minutes with Dr. Maturin's brain...
Mar. 18th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Actually, that's the beauty of Japanese cooking knives. They are designed so that the weight of the knife itself should cut through the material (which is why the knives are categorised by what you should be cutting with them). The deba is this giant wedge of steel that's so heavy it takes only a slight swing of the arm to cut through chicken bones. The only skill involved is making sure your fingers are out of the way!
Mar. 18th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
but proper butchery doesn't just involve chopping through bones. (I have a great pair of shears for that, anyway.) It's the fiddly bits like the wishbone, etc, that are hard - as well as flensing off the breasts without destroying the breast-bone.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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