A rose by any other name

So, last night i tried my hand at something I've always wanted to try – chicken with 40 cloves. Yes, of garlic. I learned a few things along the way. First of all, peeling 40 cloves of garlic takes more time than you'd think – particularly when a hungry baby is trying to climb up your pants leg. Secondly, don't ever try cooking brown splattering chicken quarters with a squirmy toddler in your arms. Third, though I love Alton Brown, I had turned to his recipe for my primary inspiration, and he really let me down on this one. Sure, the garlic cloves get sweet and caramel-y after 1.5 hours of braising, but for chicken quarters? I don't know how I didn't think of this beforehand, but after a sear and that punishing braise, they dissolved into ropa vieja when i touched them with a spoon. And, to add insult to injury, the whole magilicutty needed at least a cup or so of broth or water or something, yo. The whole thing left a ring of unprecedented baked-on, caked-on at the bottom of my Le Creusset (but, because it was my beloved Le Creusset, it scraped right up once I added some more liquid after cooking). Here's what else I learned – don't forget the crusty bread while you're at the store. Eating it with my whole grain sandwich bread was not ideal, and made it feel more like eating chicken salad for dinner, which feels kind of transitory and half-assed. Today I'm paranoid that I have the smell of garlic edging from my pores.

I also made some of the best eggplant I've had in a long while. This is one of those few foods that I am actually picky about. It's no wonder so many people say they don't like eggplant, as it's often just a bag o' grease, or just bitter and boiled-tasting. This, however, was perfect: Salt, pepper, olive oil and under the broiler, then flipped to the B side for more of the same. The outside was a light and delicate crust like a souffle, the inside moist and sweet, and because the veg was a perfect specimen from Eatwell Farm, our CSA, it was astoundingly delicious.

 

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