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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