I’ve been teaching Provençal cooking for more than 25 years. I love the flavors and the healthfulness of the cuisine. I’ve never eaten this specific dish IN France. It’s a bit of a combination of a dish I learned from Chef Jean-Michel Lorain of the 3-starred La Cote St. Jacques in Joigny, Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic and my Jewish heritage. The French would call this dish “Le Plat Unique,” because it is a whole meal in one pot. Although its execution is realistic for a twelve-year-old, the results are impressive enough for even your most discriminating guests. To top it off, it’s incredibly low in fat because the chicken steams atop the garlic, herbs and liquid. —ChefJune
4 to 6+ servings—depends on what else you’re serving, and how hungry your guests are
4 -pound free-range, organic chicken, whole
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bouquet garni (include thyme, parsley stems, rosemary, marjoram, bay leaf)
fruity extra-virgin olive oil
unpeeled cloves of garlic
bed of fresh herbs for the pot (should include: 1 bay leaf, the leafy top of a whole bunch of celery, a whole bunch of flat-leaf parsley, several sprigs each of marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme (and lavender greens and summer savory, if you can find th
dry white wine (Loire Valley whites are great for this)
small all-purpose potatoes (about the size of a silver dollar) (WFM sells bags of multi-colored potatoes that add pizzaz)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make a mixture of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Use this to generously season the interior and exterior of a 4-pound fryer. Tie a bouquet garni together with string and put it inside.
Pour 1 cup of olive oil into a large (about 9 quarts) Dutch oven with a lid. Add the bed of herbs and all of the garlic.
Set the cleaned and trussed chicken on this bed and turn it over and over in the already perfumed oil. Add the dry white wine. Scatter the vegetables around on top of the bed of herbs.
Then with all the oil, wine and aromatics below and the chicken and vegetables on top, put the lid on and seal it “hermetically” with a band of flour and water paste. Bake 1 hour and 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
Remove from oven and allow the Dutch oven to sit undisturbed for 15 to
20 minutes. Do not lift the lid!
In preparation for serving, put a small serving bowl (for the garlic) and a slotted spoon on the table. A pair of poultry shears is the easiest tool to use for cutting the hot chicken into serving pieces. A sturdy wooden spoon will help you hold the chicken still for cutting without burning your fingers.
Carry the Dutch oven to the table and lift off the lid at the moment of serving, and take a deep breath. The aroma is incredible!
Serve with toasted slices of bread which each diner will spread with the incomparable garlic purée. Don’t be surprised. The chicken will not be browned.
Teacher’s Tip: When you have eaten all the chicken, vegetables and garlic, you will find yourself with a large pot of herbs and a chickeny, garlicky wine-y stock. You can make a wonderful soup the next day (or several days hence) using this as a base. Here’s how:
Remove the herbs to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pour the wine/olive oil stock into a storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to make the soup, remove most of the oil that has risen to the top. Also overnight, soak 1 pound of small white beans in enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. The next day, drain the beans and put them back in the pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches, 6 black peppercorns and 1 bay leaf. Bring the beans to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour, until the beans are not quite tender. Drain the beans and reserve the water.
Return the beans to the pot and now add the reserved wine/olive oil stock from the chicken to the beans. Also add the reserved herbs from last night’s pot, and at least five of the following:
½ pound lima beans or fava beans, shelled and peeled;
6 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¾-inch chunks;
½ pound green beans, ends trimmed;
5 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks;
5 red onions, peeled and thickly sliced;
5 zucchini, cut into ¾-inch chunks;
3 white turnips, cut into ¾-inch chunks;
2 leeks, well washed, dried and sliced.
Add 1 teaspoon sea salt and stir the mixture. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes more. Some tubular pasta added during the last 15 minutes of cooking will add substance to this second one-dish meal. Serve the soup in large bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and crusty bread on the side.