Everyone needs a recipe that is easy, delicious, and impressive enough to serve guests but low-effort enough to actually pull off on a weeknight.
Slow-cooker chicken with 40 cloves of garlic is that magic recipe. An Americanized riff on classic French comfort food, this makes for a terrific dinner-party dish requiring barely more effort than you'd use to make a sandwich. And don't freak out about 40 cloves of garlic: while this recipe is not for garlic haters, the garlic mellows and softens with roasting, developing a nutty, rich flavor rather than a pungent bite.
One whole chicken, innards removed;
Celery, onions, or lemons (or a combo of any or all of them) to line the bottom of the slow cooker
40 cloves of garlic (2-3 heads, separated); don't peel them, but remove as much excess papery skin as you can. Some will end up losing their peels; stick those in the cavity of the chicken.
Thyme, parsley, rosemary, or any other fresh or dried herbs you like (optional)
A slow cooker.
How to make it:
1. Line the bottom of the slow cooker with your veggies. Throw about half the garlic cloves in there, too. Plop in the chicken, and tuck the remaining garlic cloves around it (try not to have any on top of the chicken. They won't cook down well and might burn; tuck them between the breasts, wings, thighs and legs and around the outside of the chicken, instead).
2. Rub the herbs under the chicken skin ... use a light hand, because their flavors will intensify with long cooking.
3. Put the lid on the slow cooker, set it on high, and go on about your day. In about eight hours, your house will smell incredible and you'll have delicious, moist, garlic-scented chicken (this can overcook and dry out, so if you're not eating at the eight-hour mark, turn it down to low from then until dinnertime or use your cooker's "keep warm" setting if it has one).
4. Fish out all the garlic cloves (and the vegetables if desired), and serve alongside the chicken; the pulpy flesh of the garlic makes a great condiment for the meat or spread on a crusty slice of baguette. A salad and a glass of white wine rounds this out beautifully.
5. Save the juices from the chicken; once defatted and thinned with a little water or broth, it's a terrific, richly flavored soup base. Use any leftover chicken, too, and you get two meals in one.
Image via Felipe Gabaldon/Flickr