½ cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
6 chicken thighs
1 onion, finely chopped
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled but loose skin removed
400g baby carrots
8 celery stalks, halved and destringed
½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
¾ cup chicken stock
4 stalks thyme
crusty bread or mashed potatoes to serve

This is a version of the classic French 40-clove garlic chicken. The garlic can be added with the skin on or off. On is easier prep wise, but you then need to fish out and squeeze the garlic from its skin while eating. I prefer them off, and I just crush each clove lightly with a knife to make them super-easy to peel. The dish is often finished with cream or butter, but here I have served it with a dairy-free sunflower-seed cream with a hit of tarragon that goes so wonderfully with chicken. The tarragon does discolour the cream though, so if you are making it ahead, don’t add the herb until just before serving. If there is no tarragon available, substitute chervil or parsley and add a teaspoon of dried tarragon to the chicken with the stock.

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1.To make the sunflower cream, put the sunflower seeds in a bowl and cover with water.
2.Leave to soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well.
3.Add to a high-speed blender along with the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, nutritional yeast, mustard and salt.
4.Blend to a fine cream, adding a touch of water if needed.
5.Blend in the tarragon if using within a few hours. Refrigerate until needed.
6.Preheat the oven to 180°C.
7.Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven set over a high heat.
8.Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and brown in the hot oil for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
9.Reduce heat to medium and add the onion and garlic.
10.Sauté for 5 minutes, then stir in the carrots and celery.
11.Pour in the vermouth and let it bubble, then return the chicken to the pan and pour over the stock and add the thyme.
12.Bake for 40-45 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
13.Serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes to mop up the garlicky juices.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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