Chicken Stew with Softened Garlic

The soft, mellow garlic is almost as good as the tender, juicy chicken.
TIME 1¼ hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole cut-up chicken or about 3 pounds parts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large garlic bulbs, separated into cloves but not peeled
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup water, dry white wine, or chicken stock
1 loaf crusty bread, sliced, for serving

1 Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed but adjusting the heat so the chicken sizzles but doesn’t burn, until the pieces release easily from the pan, 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn and rotate them every few minutes to brown them evenly. As the chicken pieces brown, after another 5 to 10 minutes, remove them from the pan and spoon out all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat.

2 Add the garlic and cinnamon, sprinkle with more salt and pepper, and pour ½ cup of the liquid over all. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily.

3 Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, then check and add the remaining liquid if the pan looks dry. Cover and cook until the chicken and garlic are very tender, another 25 to 35 minutes. (At this point, you may refrigerate the stew for up to a day; reheat gently.) Transfer the chicken, garlic, and pan drippings to a deep platter and serve, spreading the softened garlic cloves on bread slices.

  • Braised Chicken with Shallots: Instead of the garlic, trim and peel 10 shallots, but leave them whole. Follow the recipe.

  • Searing the chicken first develops a little extra flavor and gives the skin a crisper texture, but it’s not necessary. If you feel lazy, just dump all of the ingredients into the pot at once, bring the mixture to a boil, and go from there.
  • The skins help keep the cloves intact and flavor the sauce.
  • Bread is the simplest accompaniment for this stew, but it’s also nice over boiled —and buttered—egg noodles or rice.

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