Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Richard Olney's Garlic ChickenForty cloves of garlic in one recipe sounds highly improbable, a foolhardy experiment in the manner of chili pepper eating contests and bacon ice cream. But I have lived to tell the tale, friends, and I can tell you that it is fabulous. In the classic Provençal dish, popularized in America by Richard Olney and James Beard and others, a whole chicken is baked with lots of olive oil, herbs, a bouquet garni and four, count them, four whole heads of unpeeled garlic, which sweeten and mellow into spreadable, sticky, buttery goodness. The chicken came out wonderfully juicy and well-seasoned, but the best-of-the-best part of our meal were those little packets of roasted garlic.

We had a few glorious days of spring this week, all of them drifting into gentle evenings where it was warm enough to light candles outside and bring a whole pot of garlic chicken to the middle of the table, everyone tucking in from there. The four of us tore through a whole baguette (and could have probably eaten another), dunking it into the pan juices and olive oil and spreading slices with roasted garlic squished out of their papery shells. It was an easy-going, convivial supper shared with friends, a dish especially suited for a barefoot evening with many smudged glasses of rosé, good gossip and lots of napkins.

Richard Olney’s recipe calls for a simple dough ring sandwiched between the lip of the pot and the lid to create a seal, but I opted for Beard’s slightly less charming method of using aluminum foil, and followed his instructions for temperature. Have your butcher cut up one whole chicken or substitute 8 bone-in pieces, and to shave off a few minutes of prep (that said, there isn’t much to it) you might substitute a package of peeled garlic. And I haven’t tried it yet, but next time I might brown the chicken in a portion of the olive oil and give it some color before baking, an adaptation I’ve seen modern cooks use.

So to warm nights and cozy suppers shared in backyards, to al fresco drinks with friends, to wonderful, heaven-sent springtime: Salut!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
adapted from Richard Olney’s Simple French Food, 1974

  • one 3 lb chicken, cut up; reserve the backbone for stock or discard
  • 4 heads of plump garlic (about 6 oz)
  • 1 tsp each dried thyme, tarragon and oregano
  • 2/3 C olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • aromatics for a bouquet garni: leek tops, bay leaf, celery stalk, several sprigs of fresh thyme and flat-leaf parsley
  • kitchen twine

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and allow to come to cool room temperature. Meanwhile, break up the garlic heads into cloves, discarding any loose, papery hulls but leaving the cloves unpeeled. Make a bouquet with the aromatics and tie together with a small length of kitchen twine.

In a heavy dutch oven or deep casserole dish with a lid, coat the chicken and garlic cloves with the olive oil and dried herbs. Nestle the bouquet garni in the center of the pot and arrange the chicken and garlic around it. Cover the pot with aluminum foil to make a seal and replace the lid; bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve with crusty country bread or a baguette for dipping into the olive oil and pan juices and spreading with roasted garlic.

garlic heads

About scarpettakate

Scarpetta Dolcetto celebrates simple, seasonal, scratch home cookery.
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64 Responses to Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

  1. Evan @swEEts says:

    We are huge fans of garlic and I’ve actually heard great things about this dish.. can’t wait to give it a go- especially after hearing your rave reviews!

  2. Levi says:

    This meal was amazing, I’m so glad I was able to help out (with the eating part of course)!

  3. OH I know this has to be good! All that garlic … yummy! 🙂

  4. Pam says:

    I just took a break from window washing to check in with you! So glad I did as this looks amazing, and I’m eager to try the recipe. I would rather be cooking on this wet, cool day in Washington; but the interior windows are calling. Back to it. . . . .

  5. My heart has been beating a tad bit faster as I just love garlic 🙂 I’m so glad the dish came out well; it’s totally scrumptious!

  6. This looks beautiful and so delicious! Love all that garlic too!

  7. Tiffany says:

    We still haven’t tried it with all 40 cloves, but I know it will be amazing once we make it, we can not get enough garlic in our dishes!

  8. Jason Phelps says:

    I guess it might sound foolish if you hadn’t cooked much, but I clicked on it as soon as I saw the title. It sounds pretty awesome to me!


  9. Tamar says:

    I made a spaghetti sauce with 40 cloves of garlic once. I think I scared away every vampire within a 300 mile radius but it was so good.

  10. Recipe Chefs says:

    Excellent post thanks for sharing. Food is something I can enjoy all around. If I’m not eating it. I’m reading and looking at pictures about it. This looks tasty.

  11. That’s an amazing photo! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. The last time I tried this was in college and it didn’t, ahem, agree with everyone. We foodies just have a higher tolerance for garlic!

  12. Garlic is wonderful. I’ll have to try this sometime!

  13. enjoibeing says:

    mmm yumm, i love me some garlic and chicken. looks like a great recipe, im gonna have to jot this down

  14. Better Offer says:

    Sounds great!

    Think I’ll give it a go – when I don’t have to meet anyone for a few days afterwards! 😉

  15. I love garlic, to the point of eating the minced version straight from the jar (I don’t recommend it, though). Your recipe sounds delicious!

  16. Pingback: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (via scarpetta dolcetto) « Gem's Blog

  17. I love garlic and chicken with garlic is the best I will have to try this thank you so much for sharing it with us..

  18. Thanks for posting the recipe. I love garlic as well especially in the middle of olives.

  19. Kevin says:

    Oh…. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! Love chicken and love Garlic. This may be on my table by this weekend! Excellent! I will be back for another cooking lesson and could you do something with schrimp that doesn’t involve peppers or chilies of any kind? Sweet!

    Have a great week….Kevin

  20. Wow! 40 cloves! My fingers hurt just thinking about it. But I cannot wait to try 🙂

    “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. ”
    –Oscar Wilde

  21. This sounds delicious! I am buying my 1st house and this might just be one of my first dishes I try. Thank you!

  22. Thanks! I have absolutely no talent with cooking meat (raised a vegan) and my poor husband has to suffer as a result. This recipe looks pretty straight forward and he’ll be happy to have a garlicy poultry dish at home as opposed to a restaurant 🙂

  23. Thanks for the notes, folks! I appreciate you stopping by. Cheers!

  24. CrystalSpins says:

    Oh man, this makes me want a picnic table in my yard and a bunch of hip friends to come over to eat. Where will I find the hip friends?


  25. erinsiu says:

    AH! GARLIC!!! The miracle ingredient. Sounds like an amazing dish, I will have to try it out on a night where I’m not planning on going anywhere! 🙂 LIKEYS!

  26. ournote2self says:

    That looks DELICIOUS!!! I have to try this! I could almost smell it as I was drooling over the picture.

  27. Totipotentish says:

    As a lover of garlic I was delighted (if a bit astonished with the high number of cloves) when presented with this dish, oh say five years ago. The next day was the one and only time someone asked; ‘have you been eating garlic?’ – But it was worth it! Glad you are spreading the joy.

  28. Kitty says:

    If you garlic eaters out there ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend the Stinking Rose restaurant in San Francisco. They even have a garlic ice cream.

  29. mysweetmarie says:

    Hmmmm garlic!! Must try it out now!!

  30. eva626 says:

    great post..the recipe looks simple and the pic looks very delish!!! congrats on fp’ed!

  31. 40!!??!!! Wow, that must feel like injecting garlic… but kinda fabulous, I like the idea… ;o)

  32. architessica says:

    Being Italian garlic is always a key ingredient for my meals. I’ve told my boyfriend I was going to try this recipe and he kinda looked at m in bewilderment. Haha.

  33. Kilian says:

    i would love to try your chicken, looks sooo fantastic.
    The temperature 375? I hope you mean °F ? Im a german living in france so it means ~190°C isnt it? First i was disappointed, my oven just goes up to 250°C =)

  34. Marco says:

    This sounds like a great dish… Smear some of those roasted garlic on some french baguettes…. yumm…

  35. Errol Otter says:

    That sounds so delicious! I love garlic as well and am going to try cooking this as soon as possible 40 40 40!!!!!!

  36. rtcrita says:

    Oh, my! That sounds like sheer heaven to me! I love the flavor of garlic and have many times taken a whole garlic head and placed it in a small sqaure of foil, poured olive oil over the top, added one small pat of butter and baked in the oven at 400 degrees for less than 30 minutes or until it comes out soft and delicate. I just peel back the foil, and using a fork, I pull off the skins and enjoy! Garlic is so good for high blood pressure, too.

    I am trying this recipe on Sunday. I’m sure my family will love it! Thanks for sharing.

  37. yumm-o! i can’t wait to make this too. it’s like another version of what we usually do at home 🙂

  38. Pingback: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (via scarpetta dolcetto) | My Grandparent's Kitchen

  39. Ship's Cook says:

    Garlic is great a vegetable, but the trick is not to overcook it as it will become bitter if it dries out. If you are in London or Stockholm try Garlic and Shots every dish has garlic even the ice cream, which actually works!

  40. Bunny Eats Design says:

    Yum. I love garlic. I’ve heard about this dish before too but never ventured into it. I love squeezing roast garlic out of their skins but usually I pop them straight into my mouth!

  41. ahmadblues says:


  42. Katie Gou says:

    That looks pretty yummy!

  43. This is a wonderful recipe! And simple. Can’t wait to try this on my neighbors. Thanks for posting.

  44. whatsaysyou says:

    This dish looks yummy and I would definitely have that for a dinner feast anytime

  45. Brandon says:

    This is going to taste delicious tonight 🙂

  46. Errol Otter says:

    I always try in incorporate garlic in what I cook, but I never feel like I use enough. My mom and books always 2 or 3 cloves and thats what I do. Then low and behold your vegetable or chicken or meet or sauce comes out and it only has a tint of garlic. Now finally i can cook something that oozes with garlic! I am very excited!

    I will be sure to report back how this garlic infused chicken comes out!


  47. Kitchen Diva says:

    This recipe sounds divine! I am always looking for good chicken recipes and look forward to trying this! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  48. Harold says:

    This sounds good! Congrats on being FP!

  49. Pingback: 40 cloves of garlic « Family Bites

  50. Karen says:

    This is a staple at our house for Sunday dinners. I brown the chicken parts first before putting in the oven. Delicious!

  51. rsmacaalay says:

    Being a Filipino I would love this dish because of those garlic!


  52. AHMED FOYSAL says:

    I’ve tried it today. In one word ” Fantastic” . Looking for more yummy Recipes from you ^_^

  53. Aiko says:

    I bookmarked this page and just tried it tonight! Yummy yummy! Love the little cloves of garlic to spread over the chicken itself, pieces of sourdough bread or just pop them in my mouth. Thanks for posting!

  54. Pingback: chicken with 40 cloves of garlic … u-m-m-m-m! « Columbia news, views & reviews

  55. Cecilia says:

    I made this last night and it turned out beautifully (I can’t believe how simple it was — practically zero prep time…)! I browned the chicken before throwing it all in the pot, which added a little crispiness to the skin and a heavenly color… I’ll be making this one over and over again. Thanks, Katie!

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