Friday, September 27, 2013

A Real Winner of a Chicken Dinner: Roasted Chicken With Bacon and Forty Cloves of Garlic



A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a producer of a national daytime cooking/talk show inviting me to participate in a segment about making delicious dishes from leftovers.  She asked that I make two dishes. The first dish was to be a nice meal in its own right, then a new, fresh meal was to be made from the leftovers.  Her only other requests were that it be something fun and fabulous and I take lots and lots of photos.

Now I'm not claiming to be a TV veteran by any means, but I've done enough stuff like this to know that only a small percentage of the footage that these producers accumulate makes it on the air.  I still readily agreed because it's pretty exciting to do something like this and I always enjoy having a little good excitement in my life.

I got the call at about noon on a Friday and immediately I became a zombie, totally preoccupied by the task at hand, not able to think of anything else. Finally after seeing me fret and torture myself for hours, Mr. H had a brilliant suggestion. He suggested that I quit over thinking it and just do what I would normally do on any Friday night, so I took his advice and baked a chicken.

The thing I love about a big old fat baked chicken is that they are so easy to cook and even easier to dress up. All you really have to do is slather one down with herbs and spices, slap it in the oven, slow cooker or on the barbecue grill and Bob's your uncle! You have a delicious dinner that you could serve to anyone.

So I got on with it.  I decided on an old favorite and went with chicken roasted with forty cloves of garlic.  I mean how can you go wrong with a nice chicken spiced up and dotted with tons of garlic? Oh yeah, and since you are at Karen's Savoury Table after all, I draped my chicken with lots of bacon, just because.

I assembled my ingredients and found my favorite baking dish that I had been saving for just the right photo opportunity.  It is beautiful, don't you think?  I snapped lots and lots of photos like I was asked to before popping it in the oven and roasting it to a perfect golden brown.


One hour later my beautiful baking dish exploded in the oven as my unsuspecting husband napped on the sofa not eight feet away.  He best described it as a scene from The Hurt Locker. Not only was he awakened by a loud explosion and billowing smoke, but he simultaneously had to come to terms with the fact that he was going to have to mop up the mess and was most likely having hot dogs for supper. Poor guy, he and the dog had to clean it up since I was gone to the store at the time (thank goodness). I felt terrible for him, but I still drove very slowly on the way back home.

The next morning I pulled it all together again, reassembled the ingredients, stuck them in a new dish to roast while my husband and dog took a very long walk. The results were beautiful.  My chicken was a deep golden brown with a crackling skin and 40 plus cloves of sweet, buttery roasted garlic.

I learned this bacon trick from Delia Smith long ago. Not only does it keep the chicken hydrated without basting, but the smoky flavor from the bacon gives the chicken a delightful flavor.

I always like to tuck a little garlic in the cracks and crevasses in my chicken for a little extra flavor. It doesn't stay in there long, because as the chicken cooks it swells and pushes it out, but it still transfers a nice subtle garlic flavor to the meat.


After two days cooking and one spectacular event, we finally got to enjoy this beautiful chicken dinner. It was succulent and flavorful without too strong of an identifying flavor so it lent itself very well for the leftover dish.



For my second meal I decided to make one of my family's favorites and one of my most popular recipes to date, Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese.  Because I had plenty of shredded chicken and added some of the leftover roasted garlic, this dish came out especially hearty. Since posting this about a year ago, it has been favorited, pinned and liked more times than I can count. It really is a great recipe.

Well after all of this, neither of my recipes made it on the air. I kind of knew it was a toss up, so I wasn't surprised or disappointed, in fact I kind of like to look on the bright side and count my blessings. My husband got to act out an exciting scene from one of his favorite movies, my dog got to lick up lots of chicken juice and I got a clean oven and some beautiful photos to share with you here.  I would call that a win, win all around.



Roasted Chicken with Bacon and Forty Cloves of Garlic

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to roasting a chicken. One side cooks their chickens at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. The other side, to which I am a member, prefers to lower the temperature and slow roast their chicken. I especially like the slower method here so my garlic gets nice and soft and caramelized.  Either way you prefer, make sure your chicken is thoroughly cooked and the juices run clear before serving.

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
40+ cloves of garlic (approximately 2 – ½ to 3 bulbs) with all skins or at least the papery outer skins removed
1 small onion, skin removed and sliced into eights from pole to pole
6 small sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 4 to 5 pound chicken (whole or cut up), thoroughly washed and dried
4 slices of hickory smoked bacon
1 healthy glug of white wine (approximately ½ cup), plus more if needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drizzle two tablespoons of the olive oil onto the bottom of a medium to large size baking dish.  Scatter half of the garlic cloves into the pan, followed by the onion and half of the thyme sprigs.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on top of the garlic, onion and thyme in the pan.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the chicken then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Tuck the remaining garlic in the folds and on top of the chicken.  Lay the bacon slices lengthwise from end to end across the top of the breasts and legs.  For this recipe I leave the drumsticks untied so the garlic in the folds bakes evenly. 

Pour the wine into the base of the baking dish.  Place into the preheated oven to bake for approximately 1 - 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat begins to pull away from the bone and an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh.  If bacon begins to burn during baking, carefully remove it from the breasts and drop it into the drippings in the baking dish.

Remove from the oven and tent with foil; rest for 10 -15 minutes before carving and serving with the pan juices.







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