I must tell you my chicken and garlic story. It was 1982 and we were in Singapore. We were on our way home after a year in Europe and we weren’t staying at the flashest hotel in town.
We decided to eat at the hotel restaurant and I ordered chicken and garlic. Well, I certainly got my money’s worth in story currency. You see, there were 51 cloves of garlic and about three pieces of chicken. When it arrived, we laughed and laughed and laughed. I ate the three pieces of chicken and counted the garlic. We were not as familiar with garlic then as we are now.
Today’s recipe has, virtually, nothing to do with the dish I ordered in 1982. It is not even Asian – I just thought I would tell you the story (I have told everyone else so why not?). This dish comes from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Moorish.
They introduce the recipe by saying:
In this well known French peasant dish, garlic is cooked in its skin and becomes all velvety smooth and creamy with none of the over whelming pungency the title of the dish might suggest. In our view there is nothing better than squeezing out the hot garlic cream over the roasted bird or smearing it on bread.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? And it is.
There are a few things you may notice about the head photo. The most significant issue is the dish has not been roasted. 🙂 I have made this dish quite a few times since the book was published in 2001 but always when we have guests. This is because it is a great dinner party meal. Dinner is served straight from the oven in the tray it was roasted in and everyone helps themselves. The trouble is when there are guests, I am a bit embarrassed about taking photos and so it has never made it to this blog.
This time, I thought ahead and took a photo of it as it was going in the oven. You will just have to imagine how good it looked coming out.
The next thing you may notice is there is not a Merguez sausage to be seen. We are in Bridgetown and only in my wildest dreams would I be able to buy a Merguez sausage here. Normally, we just substitute the Merguez sausages with chipolatas which taste fine but they are not similar to Merguez sausages. Merguez sausages are very spicy North African lamb sausages. Because we couldn’t buy any, we decided to make our own but we didn’t have any sausage casings so we made little meat balls instead. At least, we had all the right flavours. We have since bought sausage casings.
The next detail to be noticed is the recipe calls for 2 Hungarian peppers and there are none in the photo. If I was in Perth, I would go with what we call “paprikas” – they are slightly elongated, pale yellowy-green mild peppers. Interestingly, the photo of the dish in the book shows two long green chillies. You know, the type you see everywhere in supermarkets. (Don’t get me going on food photography that does not represent the ingredients.) The point is, I don’t really know what the authors require. As I usually can’t get paprikas here, I cut a capsicum into very large pieces and add a couple of whole chillies for good measure.
Finally, don’t be put off if you don’t know what taklia is. It is a very simple, all-purpose savoury mix found in Lebanon and Syria. It only has 4 ingredients – garlic, coriander, olive oil and salt and is very simple to make. I have set out instructions after the main recipe. You will make too much for this recipe but the Maloufs say it will keep for 2 months in the fridge. I made it up and put it in the freezer for later use.
These quantities serve 4.
- 60ml olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1.2kg chicken or 4 Marylands (thigh and leg portion)
- 1 – 2 whole head/s of garlic
- 8 Merguez sausages
- 8 shallots, whole
- 8 small potatoes, or potato chunks, parboiled
- 4 tomatoes, halved
- 2 Hungarian peppers, halved, with the stalks still attached (see above)
- 1 teaspoon taklia (see below)
- a few sprigs of rosemary
- 10 strands saffron
- juice of ½ lemon
- 100ml water or chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- Mix the saffron with the lemon juice.
- Separate the cloves out of each head of garlic, leaving their thin papery skins on.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown. Arrange, skin side up, in a large baking tray.
- Brown the sausages and place them around the chicken on the tray.
- Put the garlic into the pan and colour lightly then add to the tray.
- Turn the heat right up and add the shallots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, taklia, rosemary, saffron and lemon juice with the water or chicken stock. Stir for a minute or two until everything is nicely coated.
- Take off the heat and arrange the vegetables in the tray. Pour the juice over everything.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the tray into the centre of the preheated oven. Cook until the chicken is done (about 45 minutes).
- Bring the baking tray to the table and serve with a green salad and crusty baguettes for smearing with the garlic.
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Place the garlic and olive oil in a heavy-based pan and sauté for 1 minute, taking care not to let it colour. Put the garlic into a mortar with the coriander and salt and grind to a very thick paste. Spoon into a jar. It will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge or ages in the freezer.