Fun in London with Simon and Carolyn

Roasted Chicken

The countdown was a little off so I’m going to step away from it until Tuesday which will be Election Day and one week until the book comes out. Since I’m still in London with Simon and Carolyn and Simon is Scottish, I thought I’d share a Scottish tale — any comparison between Simon and Tobias Smollett is at your own judgement.

Tobias Smollett, a Scottish satirical writer (and a bit of misanthrope) traveling in France in 1763, noted, “In this country I was almost poisoned with garlic, which they mix in their ragouts, and all their sauces, nay, the smell of it perfumes the very chambers, as well as every person you approach.” In the writer’s picaresque tale, Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, a gentleman sits down to a plate of roast chicken, but when it is set before him tears ran down his cheeks and he shrieked, “Zounds! This is the essence of a whole bed of garlic.” Here’s a re-post of Ford Madox Ford’s chicken roasted over 2 pounds (Zounds!) of blanched garlic.

Poulet Béarnaise

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 cup olive oil
One 4- to 5-lb chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lb garlic cloves (about 14 heads), blanched and peeled
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Truss the chicken (see Note) and season it all over with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken in the oil, turning to cook evenly on all sides, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; stuff the cavity with about one fourth of the blanched garlic

3. Return the pan to medium heat and add more oil if necessary. Add the remaining garlic cloves and stir to coat evenly olive oil. Transfer to a baking dish to make an even bed. Set the chicken on top of the garlic.

4. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add more oil if necessary. Add the potatoes and brown them lightly on all sides, turning as necessary. Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish around the chicken. Cover the baking dish and bake until the chicken is cooked through (165°F), about 1 ½ hours.

5. Let the chicken rest for about 15 minutes before carving into pieces to serve. Accompany with the potatoes and garlic and spoon the pan juices over each serving.

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