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I harvested the first of my GARLIC this week. The regular “grocery store” cloves I had planted were ready and the first of my “hot” garlics called St. Helen’s Red. Someone had asked how they would know when to pull up their garlic. Good question – I took pictures to show you. The leaves should be turning yellow, the stalks falling over a bit and widening at the base. Don’t leave it in the ground until the stalk starts splitting at the base or you risk having it rot. You may be able to pull some garlics out of the ground, but if the neck starts to break off, use your shovel to lift it out. Garlic will keep best if it dries with the stalk attached. Wash off the head and lay it in a covered place outside to dry for a few weeks (it should effectively ward off vampires as it is amazingly stong when fresh!)
So here is my favorite thing to do with fresh garlic: 40 Clove Garlic Chicken
OK, I can already see your eyebrows go up, but the roasted garlic in this dish mellows and gets a creamy consistency that sort of melts into the sauce. It is like the BEST chicken and gravy you have ever eaten! You will need nothing more for dinner than a salad and some crusty bread to soak up every drop of the amazing broth. You do NOT have to peel fresh garlic – it is so crunchy the papery skin on the cloves has not formed yet. (Old cloves of garlic that have already started to sprout have a disappointingly bitter taste.)
My red and gold beets were ready too. I will peel and roast them for a lovely accompaniment, and save the yellow beet greens to saute with onions (As good as spinach & way more delicious than swiss chard. Jim agrees.)
Forty Clove Garlic Chicken
Yield: 6 servings.
3- to 4-pounds of chicken pieces, skin on (thighs are very good)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
About 40 large garlic cloves
Rosemary & thyme, fresh or dried
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or canned broth.
1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place a deep skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and add oil and butter. When fats are hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces skin side down and cook until skin turns an even, golden brown, about 5 minutes. Work in batches, if necessary, and carefully regulate heat to avoid scorching skin. Turn pieces and brown them on other side for an additional 5 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Bury garlic cloves under chicken to make sure they settle in one layer at bottom of skillet. Saute, shaking or stirring pan frequently, until garlic is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine, stock, rosemary and thyme, scraping bottom of pan.
3. Cover and finish on the stove or in the oven for 40 minutes more until the chicken is extremely tender. Serve chicken with garlic and pan juices, and plenty of crusty bread to soak up all the broth. (Mashed potatoes would be good too – anyting to hold the garlic and broth!)
Yum! Happy Eating!