When moving into a brand new house in Rockland, Maine in the middle of the winter, during a week where a snowstorm literally every other day means a fresh new foot of sticky wet snow blocking the front of the storage unit you’re trying to frantically unpack on the few clear days you have so you can find the curtains from the kids’ rooms that you KNOW YOU SAVED, your cooking priorities change a little bit.
For us, in times of anxiety, stress, and exhaustion, our cooking projects need to meet three major criteria: Whatever we cook should be easy and comforting, we should be able to get a few meals out of it, and the recipe should provide us an excuse for opening a bottle of wine, which we will then finish with dinner before collapsing into bed.
Can I pause here for just a second to tell you how ridiculously fun it is to cook in our new kitchen? After trying to make do in our crummy apartment kitchen in Burbank for the last year, where the grout never seemed to ever get clean and none of the cabinet doors would close, moving back into a full-sized, newly-renovated kitchen is an absolute pleasure. All the appliances are new and efficient. There’s light EVERYWHERE. We’ve got a big white farmhouse sink to hold piles of dirty dishes, and then dishwasher to zip everything through when we’re done. It’s heaven, and it probably warrants its own post at some point.
But for now, this chicken. Oh, this chicken. You cook the skin-on thighs until they get golden and crispy, and then you make a sauce with two entire heads of garlic and a healthy glug or three of white wine. If you choose to serve it over mashed potatoes (and you should absolutely choose to serve it over mashed potatoes), you’ll notice that the softened garlic you spoon over the top takes on the exact same texture as the potatoes, and when you take a bite of everything all together? It’s heaven.
If you’re worried about peeling all of that garlic (somewhere around 25 cloves) and thinking about using that as an excuse to not make this dish, get a hold of yourself. Don’t buy that pre-peeled garlic (it loses a lot of its flavor sitting in that sad jar), and don’t make yourself crazy peeling one clove at a time. Instead, here’s the trick we use to peel huge amounts of garlic at a time. Try it, and you won’t believe how well it works:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6-8 chicken thighs, deboned but with skin on
- Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 heads of garlic, separated and peeled
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¾ cup white wine
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 400.
- In a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin side-down to pan, and season with salt and pepper. Leave the chicken pieces alone for a few minutes before turning, to allow skin to get golden brown and crispy. Cook until brown on all sides, about ten minutes total, and transfer chicken pieces to a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium, then add garlic and cook until it begins to brown, stirring regularly. Sprinkle garlic with the flour, stir to coat, then return chicken pieces to pan and cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Transfer pan to oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven (it's hot!), and return to stove top. Transfer chicken pieces back out of the pan to a new clean plate. Turn burner to medium-high, and whisk in the wine, making sure to scrape all the delicious crusty bits off the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth and thyme, then reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, about five minutes. Remove from heat, and swirl in butter. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Return the chicken to the pan to re-warm and coat with the sauce before serving.