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Sikes: ‘Combining chicken and garlic is a fine union’

Sikes: ‘Combining chicken and garlic is a fine union’

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Sikes: ‘Combining chicken and garlic is a fine union’

Pictured is Chicken Sauté with Butter and Garlic.

Seems to me that chicken and garlic are a great combination.

There are people who don’t care for chicken. Hard to understand in that there are so many ways to cut/form chicken, plus ways to prepare and serve it, that there’s not a single one that would have some degree interest. I bet there is.

Sure there are allergies – real ones – that don’t allow consumption. And there are preferences. Real ones too. Plus aversions.

For the vast majority of us, chicken, in some way, works. Add garlic and things get better. Put butter or olive oil in there and up go the odds big time. Appears chicken and garlic are a winning combination.

In the early years of our marriage, our go-to Friday night dinner was chicken. Usually a cut-up chicken, sautéed in butter and garlic. Likely salad and French bread were the go arounds. Red wine in our glasses.

Back 45 years ago, getting a 2.5 to 3-pound good, tender chicken was easy. Now almost impossible. I’ve learned to sauté the chicken in olive oil first and discard the excess. Then I melt butter and simmer chopped garlic until cooked through. Same bread and salad. Still great with a little bigger chicken. Much bigger—cook something else or just thighs.

We also make garlic butter chicken. It has a touch more seasoning and white wine or chicken stock added to the sauce. Then there’s Indian butter chicken. Tender and rich plus garlic.

Recently, we sautéed some boneless, skinless chicken thighs with garlic and olive oil. After covering to tenderize, we finished the dish with cream. Killer good.

Let’s go way back for a minute. The dish is chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Remember that one? I learned it in the mid-70’s. As I recall, it was a creation of James Beard in Julia Child’s kitchen. What a pair. It was dark-meat chicken with a few aromatic veggies, wine and lots of garlic. The garlic scented the dish and was used to spread on the bread like butter. As is said – “winner, winner chicken dinner.” Sure made my share of this one.

A dish we enjoy is what we call baked garlic chicken and potatoes. We use thighs for this dish – usually bone-in and skin on. Quartered onions and taters plus halved garlic heads. A crisp baguette is all you need.

Hold on, I haven’t mentioned fried chicken. Y’all forgive me. That’s almost all we had growing up except the occasional broiled chicken halves and Claire’s baked “barbecue” chicken. It was over-cooked, heavy on the sauce and so flavorful. Easy to have garlic with any of these. That last one had bay leaves too.

These days many of us have discovered Korean fried chicken. Often called honey garlic chicken, it adds vinegar, honey and soy to the sauce and plenty of garlic. Frying it twice yields spectacular results.

There’s no better way – yes, even frying – than roasted chicken. Salt and pepper inside and toss in some garlic. More salt on the skin will make it crisp. After roasting, pour off the excess fat. Sneak in some butter and garlic to make a tasty sauce. A splash of stock or cream will loosen the fond on the bottom of the pan. Chefs call that a pan sauce.

Now’s the time to raid your herb garden and spice cabinet. Season to your taste bud’s delight. Just don’t forget the garlic.

Looks like combining chicken and garlic is a fine union. It’s sure worth finding many more ways to give a try.

Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.


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