Last week I had lunch with an expert. I don't, and can't say this about most people because most of them are just like me -- barely approaching "expert" in the field(s) we've deemed our life's work. But this expert truly is. She's also great fun to be with and very smart. Robin Adelson, whose blog I wholeheartedly recommend, is, as she states, "first and foremost a mom." But she is also the Executive Director of the Children's Book Council, the national trade association of children's book publishers, and Every Child a Reader, the industry's literacy foundation. Impressive, right? She also has three beautiful daughters (one of whom went to middle school with my beautiful daughter) yet finds the time to read every book she recommends and write a philosophical blog to boot. A lawyer-turned-children's literacy advocate, Robin's expertise also finds its way to the kitchen. She is a voracious hostess who has strong opinions about food so, when she speaks, I listen. Needless to say, I was delighted to learn that her new favorite "go-to dish" for family and friends is my "Almost Confit" Chicken, adapted from Radically Simple. My recipe serves four. Robin makes it in huge disposable aluminum roasting pans to serve 40! She recommends it highly because it tastes very rich and fattening, yet there is no additional fat added to the recipe. It is astonishingly simple to prepare and you might even call it child's play. Two of my books, Kids Cook 1-2-3 and Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs (published by Bloomsbury) reflect my burgeoning interest in making every child a cook. Maybe Robin and I can work on this together. Reading and cooking have always been (still are!) two of my favorite things. Both lifelong skills and lifetime companions. Why not make this tonight with your child(ren)? Confit is a preparation in which a protein is cooked in its own fat or in copious amounts of oil, after which it is usually crisped. Here is a much healthier approach but one that yields exceedingly succulent results--so good, it melts in your mouth.
"Almost Confit" Chicken with Melted Garlic
8 large bone-in chicken thighs, 8 ounces each 14 large garlic cloves, peeled 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish 6 fresh bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the chicken in a large bowl. Press 2 garlic cloves through a press and rub into the chicken. Add the thyme leaves, bay leaves, allspice, white pepper, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Grate some nutmeg over the chicken and toss. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, skin side down. (I use an enamel paella pan.) Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up and scatter the remaining garlic cloves around. Re-cover and bake 1 hour longer. Turn on the broiler. Uncover the chicken and broil several inches from the heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin is crispy. Discard the bay leaves and garnish with thyme sprigs. Serves 4