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Chicken with forty cloves of garlic

Chicken with forty cloves of garlic and white Rioja

This is superb made with the young, ‘wet’ garlic coming into the shops now: this garlic has such a delicate flavour that you shouldn’t be afraid of using a lot of it in this recipe. Of course, it doesn’t have to be 40 cloves – it can be 20, or 50; you don’t have to count them out one by one. The effect of the garlic is not to make you unapproachable for days; instead it will gently aromatise the bird and give you a delicious sauce.

Serves four - six
4-5 bulbs of new-season’s garlic
2 kg chicken (or two 1 kg guinea fowl)
half a lemon
salt and pepper
couple of sprigs of rosemary or tarragon
I glass of dry, unoaked white wine

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 5. Separate but do not peel the garlic cloves.

2. Remove the excess fat from the chicken cavity and neck; rub the bird all over with lemon juice and put the rest of the lemon inside. Season inside and out. Put the bird in an oven-proof casserole with a lid, tucking the herbs inside the chicken. Add the garlic cloves and wine. Roast for about an hour and a half, taking the lid off for the last 15 minutes to brown the bird. Serve with the garlic cloves, which will be soft and sweet, the cooking juices, and perhaps with some of the purple sprouting broccoli which is so good at the moment.

Serve with
This will match either a full-bodied white Rioja or a mature red Reserva. Not a very beefy red, though; the flavours of the bird are delicate.