Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

1 (4-lb) chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 scant cup olive oil
2 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 fresh sage sprig
1 bay leaf (not California)
1 celery rib
40 garlic cloves, peeled (from 3 to 4 heads of garlic)

Accompaniment: toasted baguette slices
Special equipment: kitchen string

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Tie legs together with kitchen string and fold wings under chicken.

Heat oil in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning it carefully, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Tie herbs and celery together with string to make a bouquet garni and add to pot along with garlic cloves. Put chicken, breast side up, on top of cloves and bake, covered tightly, in middle of oven, basting twice, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into fleshy part of a thigh (avoid bone) registers 170°F, 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board, reserving pan juices, and let stand 10 minutes. Cut chicken into serving pieces and spread roasted garlic on toasts. Serve chicken drizzled with some of reserved pan juices.

Makes four servings
Gourmet September 2001