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Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

by . Featured in KITCHEN
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Introduction

When I was young, this old French classic was still - though in a quiet way - very much in vogue. I dare to say it was because the novelty of using so many garlic cloves had not worn off; it seemed somehow dangerously excessive. Even so, I don't think anyone would think it quite unremarkable now to put 40 cloves of garlic in a casserole. Certainly, if you peeled and chopped - let alone minced - the garlic, it would be inedible, but garlic cloves cooked encased in their skins grow sweet and caramelly as they cook, like savoury bonbons in their sticky wrappers, rather than breathing out acrid heat. This is a cosy supper, not a caustic one.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

When I was young, this old French classic was still - though in a quiet way - very much in vogue. I dare to say it was because the novelty of using so many garlic cloves had not worn off; it seemed somehow dangerously excessive. Even so, I don't think anyone would think it quite unremarkable now to put 40 cloves of garlic in a casserole. Certainly, if you peeled and chopped - let alone minced - the garlic, it would be inedible, but garlic cloves cooked encased in their skins grow sweet and caramelly as they cook, like savoury bonbons in their sticky wrappers, rather than breathing out acrid heat. This is a cosy supper, not a caustic one.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6

Metric Cups
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs with skin on and bone in (preferably organic)
  • 1 bunch or 6 spring onions
  • small bunch fresh thyme
  • 40 cloves garlic (approx. 3-4 bulbs), unpeeled
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons dry white vermouth or white wine
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt flakes or ¾ teaspoon pouring salt
  • good grinding pepper
  • 2 tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs with skin on and bone in (preferably organic)
  • 1 bunch or 6 scallions
  • small bunch fresh thyme
  • 40 cloves garlic (approx. 3-4 bulbs), unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons dry white vermouth or white wine
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt or ¾ teaspoon pouring salt
  • good grinding pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F. Heat the oil on the hob in a wide, shallow ovenproof and flameproof casserole (that will ultimately fit all the chicken in one layer, and that has a lid), and sear the chicken over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.
  2. Once the chicken pieces are seared, transfer them all to the bowl. Finely slice the spring onions, put them into the casserole and quickly stir fry them with the leaves torn from a few sprigs of thyme.
  3. Put 20 of the unpeeled cloves of garlic (papery excess removed) into the casserole, top with the chicken pieces skin-side up, then cover with the remaining 20 cloves of garlic.
  4. Add the vermouth (or white wine) to any oily, chickeny juices left in the bowl. Swill it around and pour this into the casserole.
  5. Sprinkle with the salt, grind over the pepper, and add a few more sprigs of thyme. Put on the lid and cook in the oven for 1½ hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F. Heat the oil on the hob in a wide, shallow ovenproof and flameproof casserole (that will ultimately fit all the chicken in one layer, and that has a lid), and sear the chicken over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.
  2. Once the chicken pieces are seared, transfer them all to the bowl. Finely slice the scallions, put them into the casserole and quickly stir fry them with the leaves torn from a few sprigs of thyme.
  3. Put 20 of the unpeeled cloves of garlic (papery excess removed) into the casserole, top with the chicken pieces skin-side up, then cover with the remaining 20 cloves of garlic.
  4. Add the vermouth (or white wine) to any oily, chickeny juices left in the bowl. Swill it around and pour this into the casserole.
  5. Sprinkle with the salt, grind over the pepper, and add a few more sprigs of thyme. Put on the lid and cook in the oven for 1½ hours.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD:
Chicken can be browned and casserole assembled 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and store in fridge. Season with salt and pepper and warm casserole gently on the hob for 5 minutes before baking as directed in recipe.

MAKE AHEAD:
Chicken can be browned and casserole assembled 1 day ahead. Cover tightly and store in fridge. Season with salt and pepper and warm casserole gently on the hob for 5 minutes before baking as directed in recipe.

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What 4 Others have said

  • I make this with 40 cloves of peeled garlic which after cooking for a while almost become a purée and use a lot more wine, at least a cup, so it becomes like a garlic sauce. Everyone loves it.

    Posted by cpblanco57 on 30th August 2020
  • Have been diagnosed with coeliac disease 2 years ago and these recipes are a wonder. We lived in Indonesia for many years so I’ve been cooking lots of stir fries and curries but there were so many great different recipes that I can use here in Australia with friends. Ta!

    Posted by 88AhB8 on 28th January 2020
  • It was a chilly day last weekend here in north Florida...well chilly for north Florida...So I always try and make something warm and comforting like this, so this I made and how simply amazing it was! I did sneak in some lemon..I had some that needed to be used, so a squeeze at the end and dinner was served.

    Posted by elani0028 on 9th January 2020
  • It's hard for me not to call this my very favorite recipe from Nigella. It's so easy to make, the house smells like heaven as it cooks, and it tastes beyond delicious! I serve it with French bread for spreading the garlic and a crunchy fennel salad. Any of Nigella's desserts go well after this (the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake from the same book is my most usual choice.) This is my automatic fallback whenever I have guests. A superb recipe in every way!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 1st January 2020
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