Vampires pervade pop culture these days. True Blood, Twilight, and Vampire Diaries rake in millions of dollars for the entertainment industry and fascinate fans with sex, blood, and gore. My fascination with vampires dates back to the 80s movie, The Hunger, starring Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie. The scene where Miriam seduces and bites Sarah, while Delibes’s Flower Duet from Lakmé plays in the background, stands out as a classic movie moment.
For centuries in folklore, vampires have been repelled by garlic. Garlic, an example of an apotropaic, was used over the years to “turn away” harm or evil influences. Apparently, the component, allicin, in garlic provides the effective chemical and odorous properties that repel the mythical creatures.
To be honest, I’m not really afraid of a vampire attack, but I do love garlic. It really makes all things better in my humble opinion. I’m not sure it’s possible to use too much garlic, so when I decided to throw my hat in the ring with this popular chicken dish, I couldn’t peel 40 cloves fast enough! This amount of garlic seems as if it would overpower the dish, but it actually mellows considerably when cooked and blooms into a delicious and sweet flavor. The half and half, sherry, and thyme perfectly compliment the sweet garlic flavor and pan seared chicken thighs.
The biggest challenge in making this dish is peeling the cloves. You’ll certainly want a silicone garlic peeler for the task. If you don’t own one, by all means pick up one of these flexible, silicone tubes at any kitchen store. You simply place the clove of garlic in the peeler and roll it on the counter top, The friction effortlessly peels off the skin.
Aside from peeling garlic, this one pot recipe comes together pretty quickly for a great weeknight supper. The sauce is delicious, so serve this dish with mashed potatoes or brown rice.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
8 chicken thighs, with skin and bones
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, separated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
40 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Blend butter and flour together with a fork. Using your fingers, continue blending until flour is completely incorporated into butter. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Heat olive oil in a large iron skillet over medium high heat. Starting with skin side down, place thighs in hot oil. Brown for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. If necessary, brown chicken in batches. Transfer chicken to a plate.
3. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the skillet. Reduce to medium heat and transfer garlic to skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until cloves are beginning to brown. Add sherry and cook until almost evaporated. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add butter/flour mixture and whisk until well combined. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Add half and half and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and whisk until combined.
4. Drop thyme sprigs into sauce and transfer chicken back into the skillet, nestling among garlic cloves. Place skillet into preheated oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
5. Remove chicken and all but 10 of the garlic cloves from the skillet. With a fork mash the 10 garlic cloves into the sauce and whisk until smooth. Transfer chicken back into the sauce. Add as many of the reserved cloves of garlic as you like back into the skillet. Serve immediately with rice, mashed potatoes, or salad greens.