Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

This is still in experimental stage.

Try not to purchase heads of garlic that contain enormous cloves; if unavoidable, increase the foil-covered baking time to 40 to 45 minutes so that the largest cloves soften fully. A large Dutch oven can be used in place of a skillet, if you prefer. Broiling the chicken for a few minutes at the end of cooking crisps the skin, but this step is optional. Serve the dish with slices of crusty baguette; you can dip them into the sauce or spread them with the roasted garlic cloves.


Serves 3 to 4.


  1 chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks) and trimmed of excess fat
  - ground black pepper
  3 heads medium garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
  2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
  1 tbsp olive oil
  2 sprigs fresh thyme
  1 sprig fresh rosemary
  1 bay leaf
  3/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  2 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400°. Dissolve ¼ cup salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in a large container; submerge the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse the chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with pepper.

2. Meanwhile, toss the garlic and shallots with 2 tsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan once to toss the contents after 15 minutes (the foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450°

3. Using kitchen twine, tie together the thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat the pan with oil. Brown the chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn the chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and discard the fat; off heat, add the vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set the skillet over medium heat, add the garlic/shallot mixture, then return the chicken, skin-side up, to the pan, nestling the pieces on top of and between the garlic cloves.

4. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers about 160°, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase the heat to broil and broil to crisp the skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to a mesh strainer and reserve; using a slotted spoon, scatter the remaining garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken and discard the herbs. With a rubber spatula, push the reserved garlic cloves through a strainer and into a bowl; discard the skins. Add the garlic paste to the skillet. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate the garlic; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the butter; pour the sauce into a sauceboat, and serve.