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A&E >  Food

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic packs a lot of flavor

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Forty cloves of garlic? If you read that and wondered what you would ever do with that much garlic, here’s the answer: It’s what you need to make this week’s recipe.

Chicken with 40 cloves is one of the earlier recipes I made in my culinary journey. It comes together easily and spends most of its time cooking away in the oven. The ingredients are few and as the weather starts to cool down, I can’t think of a better meal to take us into fall.

The hardest part of putting this dish together is peeling all that garlic. When you break it down, it’s about two to three whole bulbs. A little tip to help speed up the process is placing a handful of unpeeled cloves into a mason jar and closing the lid, then shaking it vigorously. This helps to loosen the paper surrounding each clove.

The recipe originated in the French countryside, and I believe Julia Child was the first to really celebrate and bring the dish to America. She made poulet aux quarante gousses d’ail (chicken with 40 cloves of garlic) with James Beard and today’s recipe is inspired from that one. She even wrote an essay stating that forty cloves may not be enough.

If you’re thinking that the garlic is going to be sharp and pungent, you’re incorrect. I was shocked the first time I made it as well, and like Julia, thought that I too could use more garlic. Leaving the cloves whole and slow cooking them helps to mellow and soften the flavor and makes them spread like butter onto a piece of crusty bread.

I was inspired to share this recipe with you after recently celebrating my 40th birthday and receiving a gift of a garlic braid from my good friends at Hidden Acres Orchards. They just recently harvested all their garlic and then they make these gorgeous braids with some of the harvest. If stored correctly, the garlic braid can last at least 6 months. I keep mine in the basement, where we have an unfinished room that’s darker and stays a consistent cool temperature.

I hope this dish finds its way onto your dinner table in the coming months, and that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

3 1/2 – 4 pounds chicken legs, thighs, or a combination of both (bone in, skin on)

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground

1/4 cup olive oil

40 cloves of garlic, plus 1 for good measure (approximately 3 bulbs), peeled

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 stalks celery, very thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs fresh thyme

parsley, chopped, to garnish

lemon, optional, to garnish

Bread for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine salt and pepper in a small ramekin, set aside.

Clean and pat chicken pieces dry and season with salt and pepper.

Over medium-high heat, in a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven, heat olive oil until shimmering.

Place chicken, skin side down into hot oil and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes before turning and cooking another few minutes on the other side. Make sure not to crowd the pot and to work with searing 3-4 pieces at a time.

Transfer cooked pieces to a walled dish or platter, to collect the juices while they rest.

When all chicken is seared, add in all whole garlic cloves and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add in white wine, to deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits of chicken and garlic that have accumulated.

Add in chicken broth, celery, bay leaf and thyme, stirring until incorporated and it comes to a slight boil.

Add chicken back into the pot, along with any drippings and cover with the lid.

Place the lidded Dutch oven into the preheated oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove from the oven and serve garnished with parsley and even a light squeeze of lemon if you prefer (I hear that’s how Julia liked it herself).

Spread the softened garlic on the toasted bread or baguette of your choice.

Serves 4-6

Local award-winning chef and Rind and Wheat owner Ricky Webster can be reached at Follow Webster on Instagram @rickycaker.

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