As I may have mentioned once or twice before, I recently finished a Master’s program at the University of Michigan. During my 2 years in Ann Arbor, I had the good fortune to share a house with two wonderful women, Caitlin and Angelina (check out their blog Food With Friends). Not only did we share late nights playing American Idol karaoke and planning awesome Halloween parties, but I also got to play with all sorts of new kitchen gadgets. One of my favorite gadgets was the le Creuset enamel-coated dutch oven Caitlin brought with her. It was during those two years that I perfected my favorite dutch oven recipe: Rustic Garlic Chicken. It’s simple garlicky goodness requires the dutch oven because half of the recipe is done on the stove top and the other half done in the oven, and the dutch oven moves seamlessly between the two.
A dutch oven is a great investment, but it certainly doesn’t have to be an expensive one. While the le Creuset brand is beautiful and the height of dutch ovens, it is out of many people’s price range. If that is the case for you, don’t let that hold you back because there are some really great options out there that are much cheaper. For Christmas I received the Lodge 6-qt dutch oven, labeled “best value” by Consumer Research, and available for $60 at Amazon.com. Walmart also carries the Better Homes and Garden dutch oven for $60 as well. I will say that $60 is about the lowest you can go with dutch ovens, unless you frequently prowl the aisles at Marshall’s and Home Goods, which is where Ruth found her Chantal dutch oven several months ago. Once you’ve made the investment, make sure you take good care of it. My dutch oven, for example, has an exposed cast iron rim that I plan on seasoning 2 or 3 times a year, and I made sure to buy a rubber whisk and a couple of wooden spoons to keep the enamel lining from chipping or scratching.
Rustic Garlic Chicken
Adapted from Food and Wine
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
2-3 heads of garlic, broken into individual cloves
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
1) Preheat oven to 400°F.
2) Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to the dutch oven and heat on the stove over medium-high heat until shimmering. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Place in dutch oven and brown, about 5 minutes each side.
3) Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Add garlic cloves, still inside their papery skins, and sauté for 4 minutes, or until it just starts to brown, stirring frequently. Sprinkle flour over garlic and stir to coat. You will notice the bottom of the pan turning brown, which is good. Later in the recipe, you will deglaze your pot and those browned crispy bits will form the base of a delicious gravy.
4) Return chicken to pot, cover, and place in preheated oven. Cook chicken thoroughly, about 15-20 minutes.
5) Remove pot from oven and return to stove top. The garlic will be soft and fragrant and the chicken cooked until the juices run clear. Set chicken on serving plate.
6) Turn burner on medium heat. Use chicken broth to deglaze your pot, whisking it together with the flour and garlic. Some of your garlic pieces will dissolve into the gravy, while others will remain whole, protected by their papery husks. Remove any husks that have fallen off of garlic cloves.
7) As gravy begins to thicken, add white wine in two batches, whisking to fully incorporate. Spoon liberally over chicken and place a piece of bread on the plate to mop up all that garlicky gravy.