Some markets sell peeled fresh garlic cloves, which save time. You can use the leftover garlic oil from this recipe for sauteing greens or tossing with pasta. Garlic cloves can be cooked 1 week ahead and kept in oil, covered and chilled. Leftover garlic oil keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.
12 garlic cloves (about 1 head), lightly smashed and peeled
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (3-pound) chicken, quartered
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Cook garlic, thyme, and 3/4 cup oil in a 1 to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, uncovered, until garlic is very tender but not golden, about 25 minutes.
While garlic is cooking, pat chicken pieces dry and rub all over with butter and remaining tablespoon oil. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken, skin sides up, in a shallow baking pan and roast 20 minutes.
Transfer garlic to a small bowl along with 1 tablespoon garlic oil and mash with a fork. Spread mashed garlic over skin of roasted chicken, then return chicken to oven and roast until just cooked through and skin is crisp, about 5 minutes.