Recipe: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

Photo by Andrew Scrivani for the New York Times

I read this amazing article in Victoria Magazine’s May/June “French Style” issue about the differences between American kitchens and the European kitchen. The author was highlighting the fact that Europeans tend to grow and store their own tomatoes fresh off the vine, mixed with fresh herbs right out of the garden, with no need for blenders, food processors, gadgets and gizmos. Just simple cooking. I love this idea. Simple, wholesome ingredients.

While I certainly do not have my own chicken farm in Hollywood, I love the idea that I can throw fresh, delicious ingredients in a casserole or dutch oven, let it cook for 90 minutes then I am rewarded with flavorful, hearty dinner that was probably enjoyed by both Louis XIV and the poor flower girl from Montmartre. Chicken, garlic, oil, tarragon, nutmeg, celery, salt, pepper. That’s it! Of course it has 40 cloves of garlic so you may want to cook this with your lover or not leave the house for three days!

2/3 cup olive oil
8 chicken drumsticks
8 chicken thighs
4 celery sticks, sliced thinly
6 parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
dash of nutmeg- and I mean a dash!
40 cloves of garlic
Rye Bread or French baguette

  1. Put the oil in a shallow dish and add the chicken pieces; coat evenly with oil.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. In a heavy 6-quart casserole, combine the celery, parsley and tarragon. Lay the oiled chicken pieces on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Tuck the garlic cloves in and around the chicken pieces. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil, then the lid. Bake 90 minutes without removing the lid. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID!
  4. Serve chicken, pan juices and garlic cloves with bread.

Some recipes mix this up with mushrooms, onions, vermouth, butter, rosemary, thyme, white wine so it’s up to you but I prefer this supersimple “throw it in a pot” recipe. You may want to brown your chicken too. I don’t even really eat the chicken. I use six drumsticks to get the juices but I love this dish really for the garlic spread. A good hard French Bread is to sop up all the juices but my Russian mother always used rye bread- flimsy, but delicious! A great meal to serve to a group, but again- I hope they love you enough to be near you after dinner!


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