Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Daring Cooks' March 2012 Challenge - Brave the Braise!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Braving the Braise! My very first Daring Cooks and certainly not last.

The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.

So, what exactly is braising?

Traditional cooking methods may be classed as how heat is conducted through the food. First is moist heat (poaching, simmering, steaming or boiling) where heat is conducted through some sort of liquid; be it stock, sauces or steam.

The second method is dry heat (roasting, baking, broiling, sautéing, pan frying) where heat is conducted by hot air, radiation or hot fat. Different methods are suited for different kinds of food.

Braising, from the French “braiser”, offers us a combination cooking method – dry heat followed by moist heat. Typically, meat is seared in hot fat which helps to add flavor and aromas, improves color (browning), and texture (crust). It is then submerged in liquid and cooked slowly and gently at low heat.


So, I was in the mood for chicken last Friday night, but was indecisive about what I wanted to make. I had two recipes in mind that I've never made before: Slow roasted chicken or Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic.

A quick informal poll on Facebook helped in my decision of going with the 40 clove garlic chicken. It worked out because not only did I accomplish making a very tasty dinner, I also completed my first Daring Cooks Challenge!

Most of the ingredients for 40 clove garlic chicken. I went the easy route and got a container of already peeled garlic.

I've always had my eye on this recipe, but have been reluctant to go ahead and try it because of its use of 40 whole cloves of garlic. I love garlic, but would it be too overwhelmingly garlic?

Well, yes.

It is garlicky, but in a very good way. The garlic slowly cooks with the chicken and white wine and becomes soft and very sweet, infusing its flavor into the white wine and chicken sauce. It doesn't exhibit the pungent, sharp flavor raw garlic normally has. Cooking totally transforms the garlic.

I used a recipe by Ina Garten, but altered it slightly because I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, but it still turned out fabulous!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic (based on Ina Garten)

40 peeled cloves of garlic (I went with already peeled garlic to save time)
8-10 pieces of chicken thighs and legs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 3/4 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1. Separate the cloves of garlic (if you decided not to go the already peeled route) and peel. Set aside.

2. Dry the chicken thighs and legs 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.

Sautéing the chicken

Nicely browned crust.

3. When all the chicken has been browned, add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned.

Browning whole garlic cloves

4. Add the white 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 dried Italian seasoning. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

The white wine I used. A chardonnay by Francis Coppola. Yes, the guy who directed "The Godfather." Did you know he makes wines too?

Chicken, garlic and white wine ready to simmer together

5. 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 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.

Dinner is served!

I went with simple brown rice as a side to help soak up the wonderful garlicky wine wine sauce.

My plate

My boyfriend however, had his with slices of sourdough bread, so he could spread the softened cloves of garlic onto it.

I think he made the better choice.

Next time I make this, I'll serve it with slices of sourdough and a simple salad.



  1. Chicken & garlic is always a great pairing in my book :-) The softened garlic is the best part!

    1. Yes! Perfect for spreading on nice crusty bread!

    2. So you're saying I made a good choice? Oh, actually did. :)

  2. Congratulations on your first challenge! I love this recipe.

    1. Thanks! I plan on participating in many more!

  3. This was my first challenge as well - your chicken looks divine. Must try this recipe

    1. Thanks! Your short rib and potato pot pie looks awesome too!

  4. Oh yumm!!! This looks soo good! And all that garlic!! :O Bet the sauce was incredibly delish with rice! Well done :)

  5. Nice first challenge - I am a garlic addict and this looks right up my alley. (I often roast whole garlic heads and have been know to ingest a whole head in one sitting)

  6. Well done on you first challenge. I love the slow cooked garlic on sourdough, looks delicious.

  7. This looks so delicious, I love roasted garlic and your dish looks perfect. Drooling at the roasted garlic being spread on toast!

  8. How can you go wrong with chicken and garlic!
    Brilliant job on this challenge.
    I have three budgies and I love the name of your blog and the header

  9. I've made a variation on this dish and I love it. I think mine has lemon in it too.

  10. Terrific post - and I think I see 40 cloves of garlic in my near future! Welcome to the Daring Kitchen and Congrats on your first post :) Carol

  11. I just made this last night, I added mushrooms though. I added them while roasting the garlic! It was delicious, my friends loved it too!


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