The recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic stopped us dead in our tracks. Before stepping into the kitchen, we read it again and wondered if it could have been a mistake. We’ve used four cloves for a gutsy pasta sauce and a couple of big cloves slivered and tucked into a leg of lamb, but 40 cloves seemed like overkill.
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic is a classic French dish, like coq au vin and chicken chasseur. It comes from the Provence region of the country, which makes perfect sense, because that’s where most garlic is grown.
Then we took a closer look at the instructions. While 40 cloves of raw garlic might be a terrible shock to a person’s taste buds, two hours in the oven softens the blow. Also garlic’s taste depends on how it’s prepared, not necessarily on how much is used. For instance, the finer garlic is chopped, the stronger the flavor. Crushed garlic is strongest, and cooked is not as powerful as raw, and the longer garlic cooks, the mellower it becomes.
Finally, we went back to the recipe. The cloves are left whole, and they simmer merrily with the chicken for a very long time. By the time Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic gets to the table, the garlic is so meltingly soft and sweet that it’s often spread on bread or stirred back into the sauce. No wonder Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic is a classic.
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Don’t be scared of this dish—when garlic cooks, it softens and mellows and is perfect for spreading on French bread. This recipe is a take on James Beard’s classic dish. We’ve added cherry tomatoes and substituted basil and mint for the traditional tarragon. Serve with butternut squash or sweet potatoes.
2½ cups sliced leeks or onion
¼ cup each chopped fresh basil and mint
4 chicken leg quarters
1 cup dry white wine
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
40 unpeeled garlic cloves (about 4 heads)
25 whole cherry tomatoes
Sprigs of basil
French bread (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Combine leeks, basil and mint in a 4-quart casserole. Arrange chicken over leek mixture. Drizzle with wine; sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic. Cover casserole with aluminum foil and casserole lid. Bake 1 hour. Add cherry tomatoes and bake 1 hour longer. Garnish with basil sprigs and serve with French bread. Serves 6.
Per serving: 280 calories, 11g fat, 22g prot., 16g carbs., 2g fiber, 660mg sodium.
Look for Relish magazine, celebrating America’s love of food, each month in the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. For more Relish recipes, go to relish.com.
Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn