Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

“[This is] a Provençal recipe that I taught for years in my classes,” said James Beard. “And one that never failed to astonish the students because the garlic cloves become so mild and buttery when they’re cooked through.”–James Beard

LC What She Said Note

“I was newly married when I first made this, and the way it sounds in the recipe is pretty mundane, but I know for a fact the final dish TRANSCENDS the ingredients to a place beyond comfort food.” That’s what one of our readers said about this recipe. We have nothing to add to what she said.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 8


  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 chicken drumstick and thighs (or 16 of either)
  • 4 stalks celery, cut in long strips
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 40 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Thin slices French bread, warmed


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • 2. Pour the oil in a shallow dish, add the chicken pieces, and turn to coat. Cover the bottom of a heavy 6-quart casserole with the celery and onions. Top with the parsley and tarragon, and then place the chicken pieces on the herbs. Pour the vermouth over the chicken, sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, add a dash or two of nutmeg, and tuck the garlic cloves around and between the chicken pieces. Tightly cover the casserole with aluminum foil and then the lid. (This may seem excessive, but it creates an airtight seal so the steam won’t escape.) Bake for 1 1/2 hours, without removing the cover.
  • 3. Serve the chicken, pan juices, and whole garlic cloves with the bread or toast. The garlic should be squeezed from the root end of its papery husk onto the bread or toast, spread like butter, and eaten with the chicken.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews

This is one of the easiest and best chicken with 40 cloves of garlic that I have made. It’s great comfort food, and I was able to use some of the organic garlic we grow in our garden. The vermouth is a good way to keep the recipe the same as opposed to using white wine, which could change the taste depending on which white wine a cook chooses. I also liked the addition of tarragon, which added a subtle flavor. It will definitely become a standard in our kitchen.

  1. jennifer trump says:

    I was newly married when I first made this, and the way it sounds in the recipe is pretty mundane, but I know for a fact the final dish TRANSCENDS the ingredients to a place beyond comfort food to luscious feasting. I confess to not liking tarragon and I used only parsley. This was by far the best tasting dish I cooked in the first 10 years of my marriage.

  2. ruthie says:

    Wow! I’d always heard of this recipe growing up but never tried it. Now, reading this version, it sounds very much like what I often do when I roast chicken. I use a whole or half chicken and throw the cloves in around it. They’re part of the “day after” though — I use some of the pan juices next day to make a rich rice, not quite a risotto but with the short grain rice. Then before serving, I fold the whole mild, buttery garlic cloves into the rice — served with lime wedges for those who like a little brightness with their creamy ;). Yummy. The tarragon is something I hadn’t thought of, so I’ll try that the next time I do this. Love that stuff.

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