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Today, I feel like telling a little story.
I have had many jobs that forced me to interact with the public. That means that over the years, I have inevitably had many encounters with celebrities ( turns out they are a part of "the public", too. Go figure. ). I didn't even know who most of these people were at the time, but I always knew when they were there. The employees would chatter amongst themselves and inform the others that so-and-so was there. Then, they got excited to meet this person, turning into blubbering fools when the individual actually interacted with them.
I never got it. I thought it was ridiculous.
Admittedly, I still think it is ridiculous, but at least I get it now. See, one day I was working behind the Whole Foods cheese counter, and word was spreading around the store that Alton Brown was there. Most people didn't know who he was ( which I found shocking ), but for once, I did. Not only did I know who he was, I actually was excited. Weird. I didn't expect that at all. As word was spreading that he was in the store, it was also being said to Stay Away. People said that he was ... less than receptive, shall we say, of fan interaction the last time he came to the store. I didn't think twice about it. I wouldn't want a bunch of people bothering me at the grocery store, either. So I went back to work, hoping I'd get a glimpse of him if he walked by, but decidedly was not going to interact with him.
One of the women working with me that day approached me, and asked who this person was whom everyone was talking about. I was helping a customer at the time, but the customer told me that she'd like to know who the person was, too, so I began explaining to both of them.
The rave went something like this:
He's the guy from Good Eats! And the guy from Iron Chef! He pioneered a cooking show for the everyman when everyone else was making fussy French chocolate sculptures on their PBS cooking shows. He taught me how to buy good knives, roast a turkey, make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, freeze blueberries, make homemade ice cream, and so much more. [ Raving continues but finally wraps up with ... ] He's a scientist! He's a chef! He's my hero!
At this point, the woman who had been patiently listening to all of this added, "He's my husband!"
What? Wait! Whoa. Talk about horrifying. I just raved to this woman for 10 minutes about how amazing her husband was, when I had intended to stay away entirely. She could have been horrible about it, but instead she was apparently amused and really sweet about the whole thing. She must have said something to him about it, as he later came over and introduced himself to me ( why did I wear, as a grown woman, pigtails and no makeup to work that day?!). He was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes about cheese and wine and Charleston: you know, the things we had in common at that moment in time. Even though I spent most of the conversation trying not to pass out or have a heart attack, he was kind to me and didn't make a big deal about how obviously crazy I was. It was nice. He was nice, despite what I had heard from others.
So today, I've got one of my favorite chicken recipes for you all, which just happens to be (pretty much) Alton Brown's 40 Cloves and a Chicken. I use a little less olive oil than he calls for, but I also tend to purchase small ( 3 to 4 lb ) chickens, and these ingredients could easily accommodate a 5+ lb monster chicken, which would definitely call for the extra oil. This recipe is super easy, and the payoff is big. The roasted garlic and olive oil turns into into a little sweet, creamy sauce, the thyme balances the garlic with a punch of earthiness, and the chicken becomes tender and juicy, nearly falling off the bone after roasting in all of the juices and flavors at the bottom of the dutch oven.
- 1 3 to 4 lb chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 40 cloves peeled garlic
- 10 sprigs thyme I have lemon thyme growing in my garden and usually use that for this recipe
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Coat the bottom of large dutch oven set over medium high heat with olive oil ( approximately two tablespoons ).
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken pieces, and place each piece skin-side down in the dutch oven.
- Once the skin-side of the chicken pieces are brown and crispy, remove the dutch oven from heat. Place the garlic cloves and thyme on top of the chicken. It's fine if not everything is directly on top of chicken pieces. Some of it in inevitably going to fall onto the pan.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil over everything, place the lid on the dutch oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hour.