This Is 40... clove garlic chicken

Graphic: Karl Gustafson, Jimmy Hasse

Welcome to The Takeout’s Garlic Week, our Valentine to the world’s loveliest stink.


I’ve been waiting my whole life for Garlic Week. There is absolutely no chance that I’m a vampire, nor is there any possibility of a future romance with a vampire, because they would surely be adversely affected by my whole person. I don’t think I could even be pals with a vampire, because forced to choose between a new drinking buddy and garlic... I would choose garlic. Not even a choice, really. Garlic, all the way. And that’s what makes 40 Clove Garlic Chicken such a favorite of mine. The chicken is delicious, but the garlic? All forty cloves of it are perfection.

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So when The Takeout asked me if I wanted to make 40 Clove Garlic Chicken for Garlic Week, my only question was if I was limited to 40. The chance to pick and choose my favorite bits of some recipes I love and combine them into my own personal garlic fest was one I found, yes, delicious.

Then Chicago experienced a hell of a cold snap, and what was going to be great got even better.

The goal was still to combine some recipes I love into my own ultimate 40 Clove Chicken, but there was an extra hope floating around in the mix: I wanted to make a big, warm, comforting, hibernation meal, the kind of thing you eat before an incredibly satisfying doze, the kind of meal you need a break from before you have dessert. What’s better than chicken and loads of garlic? Chicken with loads of garlic in a gravy you can dump all over the rest of your delicious, delicious meal.

Reader, it worked.

Combining James Beard’s classic recipe with Ina Garten’s (and taking a lesson learned from making the How To Cook Everything version, which is that my oven runs hot and requires wayyyyy more liquid than I think), I wound up with a steaming plate of garlic gravy-drenched green beans, mashed potatoes, delicious chicken, and rye toast, the latter perfect for spreading some of those 40 cloves. It was absurdly cozy—but cold or not, it’d delicious.

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Photo: Allison Shoemaker
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30-Below 40-Something-Clove Garlic Chicken

The slow cooking time here might seem excessive, but it’s worth it. And as mentioned above, please, please spread the cooked cloves on toast (I went with a dark sunflower rye, but any toast will do). Put together from James Beard, Ina Garten, and my own self.

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  • 9-10 chicken legs
  • 3-5 heads of garlic, cloves removed and peeled (40 cloves minimum, but go nuts)
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used a homemade vegetable broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine, more if needed
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. dry vermouth
  • 2 Tbsp. good olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat chicken legs dry with with paper towel, then season generously with salt, pepper, and nutmeg on both sides. Heat a large Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat, add butter and oil. Once heated, sear chicken in batches for 4-5 minutes on each side, getting good color on the bird but making sure not to burn the skin. Set seared chicken aside on a platter. Add all the whole garlic cloves to the pot with the fat and sauté, stirring often, until golden, 7-9 minutes. Deglaze with vermouth, scraping all the good brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the broth, wine, celery, and tarragon, and bring to a boil. Put the chicken and any juices on the platter back in the pot, cover with the lid, and bake for 90 minutes. Check at 60 minutes to make sure there’s still plenty of liquid in the pot; if it looks low, add more wine (as with all things).

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Move the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Whisk 1/2 cup of the remaining liquid in a small bowl with the flour, then whisk the mixture back into the pot. Raise the heat, add the cream, and bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste, pour over the chicken and everything else forever. Serve with toast and a large heavy blanket.

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About the author

Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.