Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic


When Sunita of Sunita’s World announced garlic as the spice for the January 2008 edition of “Think Spice,” it didn’t take me long to figure out what to make. Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic is a dish I had heard about before, but never had the change to make it. With the little prodding from “think spice,” however, I got my chance to make it.


Roasting the garlic for so long really made it sweet and delicious. I LOVE garlic, so I would have eaten it regardless, but this is actually a great dish for non-garlic likers. By roasting the garlic slowly, it doesn’t get burned either, which makes the garlic taste bitter. Along with munching on the chicken, I found myself enjoying whole cloves of garlic.

Speaking of the chicken, it was incredibly moist and flavorful. Cooking it with the skin and bones helped, as well as the chicken broth/white wine mixture. After the chicken was fully cooked, I made a garlic paste out of some of the roasted cloves and the remaining stock/wine mixture, and it was amazing. Jay and I both kept dousing our food in the sauce, even the non-chicken part of the meal. Again, the garlic flavor wasn’t overwhelming but was more delicate and sweet. Think caramelized garlic.


The recipe is more complex than most, but the various steps are worth it. We paired the garlic with a veggie favorite, caramelized brussels sprouts. The recipe for the sprouts is amazingly easy and is our favorite way to eat vegetables. I changed things up a little bit this time by not slicing the garlic and instead just using whole cloves, and I sliced the shallots less fine than I usually do. This made it easier to place the garlic and shallots on top of the sprouts as opposed to letting them fall in between of the sprouts and burning. I think it was a good change that I will use for now on.



Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
(adapted from original recipe printed in The Best New Recipe)

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, chicken rinsed and patted dry, giblets removed and reserved for another use (NOTE: see alternative listed below in step 1 of method)
1/4 cup table salt (i.e. 1/2 cup Kosher salt)
Ground black pepper
3 – 5 medium garlic heads (NOTE: I used 5), outer paper skins removed, cloves separated and unpealed
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, 4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, discarding the wings. Alternative: you can buy a whole chicken cut up into multiple pieces, even if not exactly 8. This is the method I chose because I didn’t want to take apart a whole chicken. This alternative might leave you with less skin on the chicken, so that is something to be considered if you really like chicken skin, but I found the ease of preparation to outweigh any pro-skin arguments. The chicken itself was amazing, so whichever is easiest for you.

Dissolve the salt in 2 quarts cold water in a large bowl, stockpot, or Dutch oven; immerse the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse the chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with pepper.

2. Meanwhile, toss the garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan once to toss the contents after 15 minutes (the foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

3. Using kitchen twine, tie together the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf; set aside. If you don’t kave any kitchen twine, use a sprig of the thyme to tie together the rest of the herbs (it won’t be very tight, but it will also be easy to fish out the herbs later even if they are not tied tightly together). Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat the pan with oil. Brown the chicken pieces, skin-side down, until deep golden, about 5 minutes (I found mine needed longer than this, at least 6-7 minutes); using tongs, turn the chicken pieces and brown on the second side, about 4 or 5 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and discard the fat; off the head, add the wine, chicken broth, and herbs to the skillet, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Set the skillet over medium heat, add the garlic-shallot mixture, and return the chicken, skin-side up, to the pan, nestling the pieces on top of and between the garlic cloves.

4. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registeres about 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase the heat to broil and broil to crisp the skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mits, remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to a mesh sieve and reserve; using a slotted spoon, scatter the remaining garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken and discard the herbs. With a rubber spatula, push the reserved garlic cloves through the sieve into a bowl (you will probably have to scrape most of the garlic paste off the bottom of the sieve); discard the skins. Add the garlic paste to the skillet. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate the garlic. Adjust the seasonign with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the butter until incorporated. Pour the sauce into a sauceboat and serve with the chicken (definitely keep the sauce close by as you eat, it’s amazing and addictive!).


Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Shallots and Garlic
(original recipe Jenny Robertson)
Note: these brussel sprouts make an appearance on the banner for this blog

2 tablespoons (or so, just eyeball) of olive oil
1 pound or so brussel sprouts, trimmed and the ends and halved
5 cloves garlic, pealed and smashed with the flat end of a knife
1 shallot, sliced thin but not diced
few pinches of red pepper flakes, more or less depending on desired hotness
1/2 cup water
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet (NOT non-stick, preferably a dark one like Calphalon rather than Allclad) over merdium-high heat. Swivel to coat the entire skillet. Place brussel sprouts, cut side down, in pan, filling the entire skillet. Place garlic cloves and shallots on top of sprouts, being careful to try and keep as mush as possible on top of the sprouts without allowing garlic or shallots to fall between sprouts (this is best achieved if you align the sprouts very closely together). Cook sprouts for 7 minutes, until browned and caramelized on bottom. Pour water into pan (it will steam a lot, so be careful), and add red pepper flakes. Cover entire skillet and cook sprouts for another 5 or 6 minutes, until tender. Uncover and remove from heat. Using a metal spatula, remove sprouts, garlic and shallots from skillet, discarding any burnt garlic, being sure to scrape the entire sprout off the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.



6 Responses to “Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic”

  1. 1 tulipfleurs January 8, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Hello . . . stumbled across your blog. This chicken recipe using 40 cloves of garlic looks delish! There’s a restaurant in San Francisco called the Stinking Rose and they too have their version of the 40 cloves chicken. I’ll definitely print out your recipe out along with the carmelized brussel sprouts. Yum! Thanks for posting and have a great day. 🙂

  2. 2 Michele May 4, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Brussels sprouts are my absolute favourite thing in the world, so anyone who has brussels on their blog header has me from the get-go. Yours look so perfectly caramelized and have kept their bright green.

    I applaud you for serving a garlic and shallot side dish with a garlic main. Why do things in half measures?

  3. 3 jcpea February 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Is a non-stick skillet a dealbreaker for the brussels sprouts? They look great, but non-stick is all I’ve got…

    • 4 lrfoodies February 5, 2009 at 12:05 am

      I’m not sure because I’ve never tried it with a non-stick skillet. I think as long as it gets hot and you get a good sear, it should work.

  4. 5 Pepperoni February 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Look Yummy!

  1. 1 Jack Trackback on January 17, 2008 at 6:58 am

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