Recipes: Roasted chicken legs with 40 cloves of garlic, garlic puree, and garlic soup

Chicken and potatoes with 40 cloves of garlic.
Maarten Holl

Chicken and potatoes with 40 cloves of garlic.

Last June, I followed gardening tradition and planted 24 cloves of garlic on the shortest day.

As the new shoots came up, I felt insufferably smug. As they grew bigger, I planned how I'd harvest the bulbs just before Christmas and plait them into a garland. Heck, there was going to be so much I could make ones for my friends.  But all my joy turned to sorrow when the bulbs themselves were stunted little specimens, victims of too much rain at the wrong times. I nearly wept.

Vegetable gardening, I've since decided, is for masochists. But new garlic, all plump and juicy, is for everyone. It's milder in flavour and far easier to peel than the dusty imported stuff you find in the shops mid-year. Make the most of it while you can.

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ROASTED CHICKEN LEGS WITH 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

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Even the most defiant garlic denier will be won over by this French classic. The garlic isn't overwhelming at all, but melts into the sauce. Serve with crusty bread and something green on the side.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 heads garlic, broken into cloves and peeled

2 onions, peeled and diced

6 whole chicken legs, skin on but excess skin removed (about 1.2 kg)

Salt and pepper

¼ cup red wine

2 cups chicken stock

12 baby new potatoes, halved

4 sprigs fresh thyme

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan. Brown the chicken in two batches, cooking for about five minutes on each side. Remove to a large oven dish, big enough to take them all in a single layer.

Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic and onions. Cook, stirring now and then, for five to 10 minutes. Add to the chicken and return the pan to the heat. Carefully pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any sticky bits, followed by the chicken stock. Pour into the chicken dish and add the potatoes and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender. Serve on warmed plates, with the sauce spooned over the chicken and potatoes.

ROASTED GARLIC PUREE

Makes about ½ cup

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

If you've got the oven on already, it's well worth the five minutes' worth of bother to parcel up some garlic and let it slowly caramelise. Then you can squeeze it into a jar and store it in the fridge for the next time you need a garlic hit in just about anything.

2-3 heads garlic – use elephant garlic (the giant size bulbs) if you can

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 170 degrees. Sit the garlic on a large piece of foil and drizzle over one tablespoon of the oil. Draw the foil up around the garlic to enclose it, like you're making a parcel. Put it in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and looking caramelised. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. When it's cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves into a small sterilised jar. Top with the remaining olive oil, and seal with a lid. Store in the fridge.

GARLIC, POTATO AND TURMERIC SOUP

Serves 2-3

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

This soup is very soothing and restorative. If you want an extra strong dose of garlic, add a couple of finely chopped raw cloves to the parsley and lemon garnish.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1 bulb garlic, peeled and separated into cloves

1 ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

5-6 medium floury potatoes (like Agria) – about 600g – peeled and diced

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the onion and garlic, along with a pinch of salt, and cook for five minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the turmeric and potatoes. Stir again and cook for another five minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and breaking up. Remove from the heat and mash the potatoes into the liquid.

Push the mixture through a sieve – this is a bit tedious but results in a silky-smooth texture – and return to the pot. Add a little more water if it seems too thick, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and heat gently. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a generous sprinkle of parsley and lemon zest.

For more of Lucy's recipes, visit kitchen-maid.blogspot.co.nz

 - Stuff

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