Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

By • March 31, 2014 • 31 Comments

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Author Notes: Adapted from James BeardMerrill Stubbs

Serves 6

  • 6 whole chicken legs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 40 cloves garlic (you'll need about 3 bulbs), peeled
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup (homemade or low sodium) chicken stock
  • Crusty bread or toast for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 375ºF. Season the chicken legs all over with the salt. Arrange them, skin side up, in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Scatter the garlic and celery into the gaps between the chicken pieces, and then drizzle everything with the olive oil. Grind some black pepper and a bit of nutmeg over the chicken and vegetables and arrange the parsley on top.
  3. Pour in the vermouth and the chicken stock. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and put on the lid. Bake the chicken for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, without removing the lid until the hour mark. When the chicken is really tender, and the garlic is soft enough to spread, remove the dish from the oven.
  4. Serve the chicken in shallow bowls with plenty of the fragrant sauce; spread the softened garlic on the bread and then dunk it into the sauce as you eat your chicken.
Jump to Comments (31)

Comments (31) Questions (3)

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2 months ago Mercuria

Wow, I made this like 30 years ago. It's versatile - you can leave out the vermouth, you can sub white wine, you can add rosemary or fennel bulb, definitely an awesome use of garlic.

However, the image shown with the article is of leg quarters, not legs. Pet peeve - take a picture of the actual recipe!

Merrill

2 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

This is the actual recipe -- leg quarters and whole legs are the same thing, aren't they? Are you maybe thinking of drumsticks?

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3 months ago Brian

This looks like it would be great with some fennel in there as well. Great recipe - it makes me want to go roast something!

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5 months ago savvynewyorker

To address the concerns of those who worry about a young child ingesting the vermouth, the alcohol will cook out during the hour and fifteen minutes in the oven, even if covered with the aluminum foil. I understand that adults with alcohol issues may want to explore the alternatives to vermouth that are discussed below.

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5 months ago Andrea Young

I am cooking at someone else's house, which may explain my predicament, but at 1 hour at 375, my chicken is pink, the skin is still dimpled, and the garlic is like raw knobs. It's 8:15 p.m. so I cranked up the temp to 425, but we may be ordering pizza at this point! Anyone have any ideas why this might be happening?

Merrill

5 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

It sounds like your oven isn't working properly! Do you have any way of measuring the temperature? You can continue cooking on top of the stove if you have to -- just keep it at a low simmer.

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5 months ago marymary

I don't have Tarragon, but I have plenty of Vermouth and everything else! This is definitely on my menu for next week.

TIP: I haven't tried this magical garlic-peeling technique yet, but apparently peels garlic in a snap... http://www.marthastewart.... When in doubt, always ask Food52 and Martha. :-)

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5 months ago cookinalong

Tarragon sounds perfect! I love rosemary, but tarragon is one of those herbs so often forgotten, but so distinctive. Thanks for the reminder

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5 months ago aahni

The original recipe by James Beard used tarragon. The recipe has been a favotite of my family for many years

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5 months ago cookinalong

This is now on the top 5 at our house! A big hit. Added mushrooms and just about 1/4 c chopped onion and subbed dry white wine for the vermouth. Fantastic!

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5 months ago Carol

I tried this and added a drained, rinsed can of artichoke hearts halved and placed on top. It was delicious, we're having leftovers tonight with asparagus. The only tedious part was peeling all those garlic cloves!

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5 months ago Abakkeful

Oh Oh Oh, I made this last night and it was fantastic. I added carrots and mushroom since they were lingering in my fridge and it was time for them to GO. The addition as a-ok. I brought left overs to work and found people hovering around my plate. I shared the recipe and am sure this will be an office hit. Thank you!

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5 months ago Mike-O

I'm curious why you don't brown the chicken first. The picture looks flabby and unappetizing to me. I understand that the braise will destroy any crispness that the skin gets from the sear, but I think it would produce a more appealing appearance.

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6 months ago slicknik25

Would it work of you did it with breasts instead (or in addition to)? My husband is a white meat guy only...

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You could make this with chicken breasts -- just remove them from the pan much earlier so they don't dry out. (You can continue cooking the sauce and vegetables on their own, and then add the chicken back to the sauce before serving.)

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about 1 month ago Paige Feinstein

If you were using breasts, would you use bone in, and if so would you recommend cooking them half the time?

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6 months ago Steve Unwin

Just made this but subbed fresh oregano in for the parsley Vino Vherde in for the Vermouth (simply because they were already in my fridge)

Absolutely spectacular, and totally idiot proof. 99% of the effort here goes into peeling all the bloody garlic. The rest takes care of itself!

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

So true about the garlic. Glad you liked it!

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5 months ago Judith Dott

Get yourself a $10 rubber tube "roller" made for peeling garlic - incredible tool!

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6 months ago Joan - Downstairs

I picked up a chicken and fresh garlic at the farmers market today and was thinking about a braise. This is perfect. I'll make stock with the wings and back, then braise the breast, thighs and legs. Leftover chicken and sauce will probably be the base for a little pot pie with additional veggies. Or maybe chicken and dumplings. Thanks for the foundation for my weekly! cooking.

My_new_do_for_55

6 months ago Joan - Downstairs

Reporting after a delicious dinner. I spatchcocked the bird and fitted it in an old oval roaster. It worked perfectly! I did not give peeling the garlic any consideration; instead, I broke the heads open and separated the cloves to braise individually in the pan juices. At table, we gave the cloves a little squeeze to push out the creamy garlic and spread it on crusty ciabatta slices which we dipped in the sauce, topped with celery bits and slurped right down.
My best Sunday chicken in a long time plus I have leftovers for the weeknights (yum) and two pints of stock in the freezer!
Following the suggestion of another reader, I pulled the supple skin off before serving and crisped it in the oven for a crunchy treat.

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6 months ago charmor

I am wondering what you would recommend for those of us who abstain from alcohol, but would like to try this recipe.

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6 months ago chris

A sauce-loving 3 y/o will be one of my dinner guests, so I'll substitute extra broth for the vermouth, this time. (Fresh lemon juice sounds good, too.) We grown-ups will enjoy our vermouth with a shot of gin, before dinner!

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Extra broth would work fine.

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6 months ago chris

I'm definitely going to make this. I think I'll brown it, under the broiler, before adding the other ingredients and braising.

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6 months ago cookinalong

Definitely giving this a try this week! One question: can a dry white wine work as a substitute for the vermouth? DH absolutely hates vermouth and that's a lotta garlic to eat by myself!

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, sure!

Stringio

6 months ago David M. Berman

Wouldn't this dish be better if chicken were browned prior to adding liquid?

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

This dish is a true a classic -- you could of course brown the chicken first, but it will change the flavor and texture profile. I recommend you try it as-is and see if you like it!

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6 months ago maria21

All the recipes here are explained well and clearly which makes it easy to follow. Thanks for sharing this with us. - C. Frederick Wehba

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome!