May 17, 2011

Three Ways to Make Zankou Chicken Garlic Spread

I'm a huge fan of Zankou Chicken's roasted chicken, which is served with pita bread and their famous garlic spread. The garlic spread is white, thick, and just a tad lumpy. It's super garlicky, and is just the perfect match for the chicken.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I want us to eat out less. And a full dinner from Zankou runs our family $15 to $20, plus the cost of veggie sides. So I recreated a meal from Zankou for dinner last night using a whole chicken from the freezer, and Jennifer B. asked for the recipe of their garlic spread since I confessed to breaking the emulsion yesterday.

I've made the garlic spread several times, and I've tried a few different ways. The one thing you need is a blender, because I don't think a whisk is going to get the job done.

So the first version I tried, via Chowhound, involved 3 small russet potatoes, 14 cloves of garlic minced (1 head), 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 cup canola oil (tip: "mince" the garlic using a microplane). I made mashed potatoes, then pureed the rest of the ingredients, and then added the potatoes. It tasted okay, but more like garlicky-lemony mashed potatoes than garlic spread.

So the next version I made eliminated the potatoes. When you add the oil slowly to the garlic, lemon juice and salt, it emulsifies and turns into this glorious, thick mayonnaise type consistency. What I learned the hard way is that you need to let it mellow for a few hours at least. The sauce was way too intense at dinner, but the next morning it was delicious.

That second version is what I was going for yesterday. Unfortunately, I didn't add the oil slowly enough and my emulsion broke. It was no longer thick and glossy but liquidy. I tried starting over but for some reason I couldn't get the second emulsion to form either, so I was feeling a little desperate. I've served roasted chicken with my white bean dip, so it occurred to me to add about 1/2 cup of cannellini beans to my non-emulsified liquid. It did the trick, and I had a spreadable sauce that was still garlicky and lemony and went nicely with the chicken.

I'm not sure which version I prefer - the second or the third. In the future, I'll probably try making the second version, and resorting to the third if my emulsion breaks again.

Be warned - it's a lot of garlic and it's intense! But delicious :)


Camille said...

Oh wow -- that place looks fantastic. We'll have to try it out next time we're in SoCal.

A garlic sauce is traditionally served with chicken schwarma in Lebanese cooking. I use a recipe from a Lebanese cookbook which is similar to your recipe (mine calls for only 4 cloves of garlic, though) and I just blend it in the blender. I've never tried to emulsify it -- just blend. But it's fantastic with roasted chicken!

Qwendykay said...

You are my hero! Zankou is one of our favorites!

What did you use to spice your chicken

Chief Family Officer said...

@Camille - Sounds about right, I know my version of the garlic sauce is not exactly what they serve at the restaurant. What you're making might actually be closer to the original!

@Qwendykay - Let me know what you think! I use paprika and a LOT of salt on my chicken :)