After last week’s disappointment with my venture into “retro American,” a plethora of chicken drumsticks found in the freezer along with another retro recipe, this one from the New York Times “Cooking” website, led me to attempt another American dish from 30 years ago: “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.” It’s an adaptation by Marion Burros from Jane and Michael Stern’s 1991 cookbook American Gourmet.
Being a somewhat less than hip septuagenarian, I wasn’t familiar until recently with the phrase “Winner winner, chicken dinner” that’s often used at casinos to celebrate a victory. But after hitting the jackpot with last night’s chicken dish, my better half thought it an apt expression to accompany a toast.
Our markets in downtown San Diego frequently seem to have extraordinary sales on chicken; for example, today I found bone-in skin-on chicken thighs for 77 cents a pound. Consequently, my plans for a pasta dinner were put on hold and replaced with a dish that caught my eye on the New York Times “Cooking” site: Garlicky Chicken Thighs with Scallion and Lime.
It’s a relatively simple dish to prepare and requires a minimum of ingredients. My only substitution was 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the 1 tablespoon of canola oil. And while the recipe gave the choice of using “a large Dutch oven or a high-sided skillet” for cooking the dish, I opted for my trusty 12″ cast-iron skillet. Sure, it made a mess of my stove, but I think the skillet was a better choice as it allowed for a better reduction of the sauce.
I was also tempted to substitute white wine for the water, but went with the latter to let the flavors of the garlic and scallions to stand on their own. And although the recipe calls for discarding the halved garlic head at the end, I served it with the chicken because it was packed with sweet roasted flavor. Finally, to absorb the sauce, I served steamed Basmati rice.
1 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil (I substituted 2 tablespoons of olive oil.)
1 bunch scallions
1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved crosswise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1. – Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. – Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. (I think the skillet is the better choice.)
3. – Add chicken, skin-side down and cook, undisturbed, until chicken is crisped and the fat has begun to render, 8 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip chicken skin-side up. Cook until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
4. – Meanwhile, thinly slice two scallions; set aside.
5. – Add both halves of the head of garlic, cut side down, and remaining whole scallions to the pot and season with salt and pepper, tossing to coat in the chicken fat.
6. – Cook until scallions are lightly blistered and browned, about 3 minutes. Add grated garlic and stir a minute or two, but do not brown.
6. – Add lime juice, soy sauce and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and partly cover. Cook until chicken is completely tender and nearly falling apart on the underside and liquid is reduced by three-quarters, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the halved head of garlic. (I think this step might be tricky for some. Be sure to partially cover the skillet to keep the chicken from drying out; but also allow enough time for the sauce to reduce properly.)
7. – Scatter sliced scallion over chicken and using a Microplane or zester, zest lime over. Cut lime into quarters and serve alongside.
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc