Main Course, Poultry

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

7 Comments 19 October 2010

One of the best reasons to try this recipe, despite some food fanatics’ derision of the Barefoot Contessa, is the slow-cooked goodness you get for thinking beyond the prejudice and deciding to enjoy a good, home-cooked meal.  This chicken, mouth-watering and olfactory-stimulating, falls right off the bone, melts in your mouth, and is, quite simply, to die for.  If you love garlic, this is the recipe for you.  The smells of garlic, thyme, the heady flavors of cognac and white wine will fill your kitchen and leave you feeling absolutely, positively richly satisfied.

Luckily, my sister owns a Dutch oven.  I am jealous.  Luckily, I can go over to her house anytime I want and play with all her nifty gadgets, including this amazing implement which is, I have to say, a necessary component of making this recipe.  Oh, you can use a deep, wide skillet and get good results, but the Dutch oven ensures that all those lovely juices will saturate and marinate your chicken until it is positively falling apart and begging you to dig in and enjoy.

The first step, prepping the garlic, is heavenly.  Even after just 60 seconds in boiling water, those gems effuse their delightful effervescence immediately.  One is tempted to pop one or two and enjoy the first sweet notes of their ever-satisfying flavor.  Because that’s what we’re going to experience: this is the first stage in ‘sweetening’ the garlic.  At the end of our adventure, you’ll be surprised at how sugared these cloves become.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Now to season the chicken, only a little salt and pepper, preferably rubbed in lovingly.  In a large skillet, brown pieces (approximately 6 lbs. cut-up pieces) 5 minutes per side until golden brown.  Remove from skillet to plate and add your gorgeous garlic cloves and sauté on low-medium heat 5-10 minutes until evenly browned.  Add two tablespoons of the Cognac, and 1 ½ cups of wine.  Sprinkle thyme over chicken.  Cover and cook on low heat for 30-45 minutes.  We opted for 45 minutes, (because the breasts we had were HUGE) and the meat was literally falling-apart-juicy.  This was the advantage of using bone-in meat.  The marrow flavor added so much to the overall, but be careful, as the bones tend to fall apart as well.  After it reaches this stage, remove from oven, scraping the pan again to work up all those lovely browned bits.  Combine ½ cup of the juices from the oven with 2 tablespoons flour, shaking well.  Return to oven, whisking on medium-high heat, maintaining a boil for about 3 minutes.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Plate your chicken and side, lightly drizzling chicken with the sauce.  Every bite of this dish is sure to excite the tongue and please friends and family!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

From The Barefoot Contessa


  • 3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
  • 2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream


Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Basic Risotto

1 C arborio rice
3 C low-sodium chicken stock
1 small white or sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 C dry white wine
1 C frozen baby peas, thawed
1/3 C Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Warm chicken stock in separate pan and keep covered till ready to use. Saute the diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan for about three minutes over medium heat, until translucent. Add the rice, sauteing for two minutes (this helps the starch in the rice come out more). Pour in the wine, stirring till absorbed. This will be pretty quick. Next add in a ladle-full of warmed chicken stock into rice and stir till it’s almost all the way absorbed. Repeat again, letting each ladle-full absorb before adding more liquid. It will get more and more creamy as you do this. Salt and pepper off and on as you add liquid, tasting occassionally to make sure its seasoned to taste (you probably won’t need a lot of salt as the cheese also has salt in it already). Repeat until all the liquid has been used and absorbed. Rice should be slightly al dente. Stir in the peas and Parmesan cheese and serve.

Makes about three cups cooked rice. You can double all the ingredients above (except cheese – only bump it up to 3/4 C) easily to make more. Even tastes good the next day!

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Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. Natasha A. says:

    I know…you are just going to shake your head at me….
    Do you think it is at all possible to make this with skinless, boneless chicken breasts?
    The Mr. and I both don’t like dark meat, and we both hate bones.
    I supposed worst case I just use skinless breasts….
    Anyways, this sounds amazing and I want to eat it all!

  2. Natasha,

    I’m sure boneless would be fine. That’s the great thing about cooking, we can make alterations and adjustments and still get a tasty meal out of it!

  3. Maili says:

    It took me a bit to figure out what a ‘Dutch oven’ is. It’s a cast iron casserole pot with a lid? What’s the difference if it isn’t?

  4. KMont says:

    Natasha, I agree with my partner in crime. We were talking about how the bone-in meats give meals more flavor, cuz they so do. But sometimes I want a more simplistic solution and/or to cut out fat, and I think you could definitely go with skinless here. I might even try this one again one day with boneless chicken as well. I’m sure it’ll still be very tasty. 🙂

    The only thing tho, make sure if you go skinless that there’s enough oil after browning the chicken to also brown the garlic cloves. If you have to add a little more olive oil, that’s cool. But you might not either. Just gauge it at the time.

  5. Maili,

    A good deep skillet with a well-fitting lid should give you similar results in terms of producing juicy chicken and the flavorful sauce. The first time I tried this recipe, I didn’t have access to a Dutch oven myself, and the recipe still turned out well.

  6. KMont says:

    Hi, Maili! Yep, dutch ovens over here are sometimes cast iron pots, usually enameled at least on the outside. Sometimes they’re enameled on the inside as well, such as the Le Creuset variety. Mine is bare cast iron on the inside. Lodge is one brand that makes both bare cast iron on the inside and out as well as ones that are enameled.

    Some dutch ovens are not cast iron, though. they look like a regular pot with a normal glass lid. I’ve never used that type of dutch oven, so can’t say much about them, but I always used my regular pots and pans prior to getting this dutch oven and certainly made do. 🙂

    But my partner is right in that if you don’t have a dutch oven, your deep skillet and lid will probably do just fine.

  7. Amanda says:

    I have heard of this recipe, but am too chicken to try it. You have totally inspired me!


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