Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


‘Perfectionist’ garlic puree perfects chicken

Years ago I was reading Chelminski’s “The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine,” the tragic rise and fall of real-life chef Bernard Loiseau (a contemporary of Paul Bocuse who took his own life when rumors circulated that he was about to lose a Michelin star). I was bemused throughout the story, as I knew the ending all too well; Loiseau was a hero in the nouveau cuisine movement. How could he do this?
Trudging through the book, the reader experiences the highs and lows of haute cuisine and the dangers affiliated with such staunch reliance on a rating system. Though I haven’t seen the movie Burnt yet, I have been told, and I have read, that it fairly portrays life in the higher end of the culinary arts.
But for now, I’ll just stick to the other end of the spectrum; what I call ‘food truck’ cuisine. Make no mistake. There is nothing worse for the wear in this genre of cooking. In fact this is the food that I like to make and eat on a regular basis, and this is where most people would rather eat. It’s good, fresh, wholesome food. And this is where Loiseau comes back into the picture.
I was a high school teacher when I read “The Perfectionist” throughout several lunches, and on one particular day I happed across an interesting recipe of Loiseau’s; his specialty. This formidable food was frog legs with a parsley puree and garlic puree. It was simple and demure. And I just couldn’t get my head wrapped around the garlic puree. It was noted that this component becomes almost candy-like, so I had to try it.
I finished my first batch of Loiseau’s garlic puree at 11 a.m. It was so good that I ate about four full tablespoons, if not more. And by 1:30 p.m., it was seeping out of my pores; I could barely handle it and my students and co-workers avoided me like the plague. I guess that all things, in moderation, can be good. I learned a valuable lesson that day; one heaping tablespoon is all you need.
Today, as I cruised through the kitchen, I knew that I wanted to roast some chickens that were lying around, so we threw them in a brine. Getting the hankering for some Cuban-style chicken, I had an idea.
I had just made a batch of garlic puree thanks to the trick I had picked up on that fateful day. By simply adding some olive oil, Key lime juice and orange juice to the puree, I was left with a slathering sauce that I would then rub into the chicken, roasting it on high, and ending with a product that was so succulent and delicious that I had to resist making a few mojitos to celebrate. It was mid-morning, after all.
The chicken was perfect to me. The skin was crispy and the flavors popped in your mouth. I just hope that Chef Loiseau doesn’t mind that I used his masterpiece in some food truck food.
Island-Style Roasted Chicken
Enough for 4 whole chickens
4 whole 3# chickens, no gut
2 gallons Brine (recipe follows)
1 quart Garlic sauce (recipe follows)

1. Make your brine, and place chicken in tub large enough to hold
2. Cover chicken with brine, pressing down into the liquid with a plate if not fully submerged
3. If you don’t have room in your refrigerator, simply add ice and stir well, leaving it on the counter. Ice water is a chilly 32 degrees so there’s no fear of mishandling
4. Brine for at least two hours, remove to drain, and pat dry
5. Slather the garlic sauce all over the chicken, making sure to rub in thoroughly
6. Roast at 425 degrees until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees
7. Remove and allow to sit for about three minutes before serving
8. Serve with rice and beans or fried cassava, and perhaps a mojito or two!

For the Brine
per gallon
1/2 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
2 whole lemons, squeezed
1/4 cup Whole black peppercorns
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. Onion powder
2 Tbsp. Granulated garlic

9. Determine how much water you will need, and then base your ingredients on that amount
10. Make your brine, ensuring that the sugar and salt are dissolved

Garlic Sauce
Makes one quart
2 cups Garlic puree (recipe follows)
1 cup EV Olive oil
1/2 cup Key lime juice
1/2 cup Orange juice

1. Combine the puree and juices with a whisk
2. While continuing to whisk, drizzle in the oil to form an emulsion
3. Relish in the fact that you just made one of the greatest concoctions ever known to mankind
4. Have another mojito

Louiseau’s Garlic Puree
Makes two cups
2 cups Fresh garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp. Whole milk, or as needed
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Cover the garlic with cold water and bring to a boil
2. When it comes to a boil, strain immediately and cover again with cold water
3. Repeat this process at least six times or until the garlic is very tender
4. Transfer to a good blender (Vitamix comes to mind) and add just enough milk to make a nice, smooth puree
5. Season to taste and adjust the thickness if too thick with a little milk