This is extremely easy. Not very photogenic, but it makes up for it in flavor. I use ''and'' in the title because garlic is more of an equal player in this dish than a seasoning. This dish could easily be made more complex by adding a handful of sliced mushrooms 5 minutes before serving, or perhaps some chopped spinach. But then it wouldn't be as simple and carefree a dish....
What you will need:
A heavy bottomed pot with a lid that fits well. I prefer a well-seasoned cast iron chicken fryer which is essentially a 3 inch deep dutch oven, with a clear glass lid.
Chicken pieces, bone in. I prefer legs and thighs, as I find them tastier.
More whole, peeled garlic cloves than you think you could possibly need. At least one medium clove of garlic per chicken piece, although more is better.
approximately 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1-1.5 cup water, or use broth, or half wine and half water. Note that this richly flavored dish doesn’t need broth or wine; water is how I usually go and it tastes great.
salt and pepper to taste. optional
I usually salt the chicken lightly the night before, and then rinse the pieces off before I use them. This changes the texture of the meat, and obviates the need to add salt later. I don’t list a quantity of chicken as it depends on how much you wish to make. Two pieces per person is usually good. Just make sure not to overcrowd your pot. The chicken should fit in one layer with a small amount of space between each piece. I usually remove all the skin and any large loose bits of fat off of the thighs, and remove the loose skin from the legs. This leaves a small amount of skin to provide that unmistakable rich chicken fat flavor.
Heat the pan over medium high heat, add the oil, and lightly brown the chicken pieces.
Add the garlic, salt, and the liquid, immediately cover and reduce the heat to medium low or low depending on how much attention you are prepared to give it. The more distracted you are, the lower the temperature.
Simmer until the liquid has reduced to a thick purée of garlic and chicken juices; 30-45 min. for water or broth, less for wine. Be careful not to let the juices dry out and burn. If you leave the skin on the chicken, enough fat will render that the juices will appear to bubble even when most of the water or alcohol has boiled away. This is because the last bits of moisture will be bubbling through a layer of grease. If you wait too long, and the gravy is a little too dry, or has started to cake up on the bottom of the pan but is not yet burnt; add about 0.5 cup water and simmer while you scrape the golden crusty bits off the bottom of the pan and loosen the chicken pieces. Do not do this if it has burnt, as that will just spread the bitter char all over otherwise still edible meat. If it has burned, salvage the meat and just write off the gravy.
Season to taste with a bit of freshly ground black pepper and serve with a crisp/light vegetable like just tender green beans, and a fairly bland starch; rice, potatoes, couscous, et al. The gravy is fab on egg noodles.
sneff brought to my attention that pre-salting chicken breasts can lead to dry chicken. I've never had a problem with this for two reasons. First, I have always used dark meat for this recipe. Second, I've noticed that pre-salted chicken breasts become somewhat rubbery when overcooked, but not stringy/dry. So, while the texture is a bit odd, I find it less unappealing than the more common chalky/stringy. On thinking about this recipe, though, I don't really recommend white meat. This is a simmered dish that is flexible in cooking time. Chicken breasts tend to be less forgiving than legs, thighs, et al.
But, boy would this make some good wings!