NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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March 6, 2013

Bacon, garlic team up for ultimate chicken

There is just something about roasted chicken that comforts, nourishes and satisfies like nothing else, especially when the wind is howling and it is cold outside.

Not too long ago, I went to visit a friend and when I walked into her house I had to take a deep breath to savor the aromas coming from the kitchen. I couldn’t keep my stomach from growling; her house smelled divine. Naturally, I had to follow my nose and take a peek in the oven.

Her British-born mother was roasting a chicken for Sunday supper. Not such an unusual occurrence, in and of itself. But when I looked at the chicken, I saw that the breast was blanketed in bacon, adding to the intoxicating roasting smells, not to mention a good deal of flavor to both the meat and the drippings.

I knew that I had to take this English farmhouse tip home. My friend’s mother brushed off my questions with a roll of the eyes, suggesting this really was the only way to roast a chicken.

Of course, I wrap many things in bacon and it has saved many an average meal for me. But I have never wrapped a whole chicken. The thing that I loved the most about her technique was that the chicken was decidedly not wrapped; the bacon was almost haphazardly placed on top of the chicken like a blanket. It was there to aid in the cooking process, not necessarily be part of the finished dish.

I decided to add this technique to my recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and shallots. I already had added shallots to the traditional 40 cloves recipe to make the chicken even more fragrant and delicious. The beauty of this recipe is that the garlic and the shallots cook in the fat that is rendered out as the chicken — and now bacon — roasts.

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