Active Time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
In this family-style dish, long, slow cooking transforms its pungency into a sweet, mellow mash, perfect for smearing on a piece of crusty bread. Follow that with greedy forkfuls of the bird, and use a remnant of bread to sop up the luxurious juices.
1 four-pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry (Organic whole birds for sale at Nash’s Farm Store)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 scant cup olive oil
2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 fresh sage sprig
1 Turkish or California bay leaf
1 celery rib
40 cloves garlic, peeled (3-5 heads)
Accompaniment: toasted baguette slices
Special equipment: kitchen string; an instant-read thermometer
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F.
Sprinkle chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Tie legs together with kitchen string and fold wings under chicken. Heat oil in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken and sear, turning it carefully, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Tie herbs and celery together with string to make a bouquet garni and add to pot. Scatter garlic over bottom of pot and put chicken breast side up on top of garlic. Cover tightly, transfer to oven, and bake, basting twice, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of a thigh (without touching bone) registers 170F, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes; reserve pan juices.
Spread roasted garlic on toasts and cut chicken into serving pieces. Serve chicken drizzled with some of pan juices.
We thank The Gourmet Cookbook for this recipe.