Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

March 31, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

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
In This Recipe


  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.

More Great Recipes:
Celery|Chicken|Garlic|Nutmeg|Parsley|Vermouth|One-Pot Wonders|Entree

Reviews (43) Questions (4)

43 Reviews

Liz C. September 25, 2016
My husband, the King of the Backhanded Complimented mentioned in my earlier comment, made this by himself last week. It was actually good.
Bev S. September 25, 2016
An easy way to peel this amount of garlic is to parboil them--30 seconds or less in boiling water and they just slide out of their skins!<br />
Lisa N. December 20, 2016
Thank You! I have been using already peeled garlic because the first time I made this it took forever to get the garlic out of their skins but this is awesome.
Karin B. August 9, 2016
I have been making this since the 70s, before big box store peeled garlic. Fresh garlic is better but by the time I get through peeling it it is no longer fresh and in the finished dish it all tastes like fragrant butter anyway. I serve this to my geezer boyfriends, it makes them reluctant to get amorous which is a good thing.
Daniel A. June 4, 2016
We switched to buying pre-pealed garlic in the little plastic tubs recently because we simply use too much of it. Of course after a few weeks the garlic does tend to lose freshness so to avoid losing product I use this recipe. Love it!
Liz C. May 9, 2016
My husband, King of the Backhanded Compliment, said: "This is actually good." It was fantastic.
Tanios K. April 24, 2015
Don't peel the garlic. When it's soft, you can press them out of the cloves :-)
walkie74 March 11, 2015
This was surprisingly good. I had to make a bunch of substitutions--two heads of garlic instead of three, dried parsley instead of fresh, and lemongrass-ginger broth instead of chicken broth-- but it was still delicious. A few telera rolls made up my crusty bread. Hubby took leftovers for lunch!
Tina M. March 11, 2015
I'm back to report that parsnips and carrots were a great addition - what an easy, delicious meal! I peeled the garlic by putting all the cloves in a glass prep bowl, topping with another bowl and shaking - the peels fall away very quickly. Thanks Merrill!
Tina M. March 8, 2015
Would it be wrong to throw in a couple of chopped carrots and parsnips that I need to make use of, or will they be total mush after the cooking time?
Author Comment
Merrill S. March 8, 2015
Not at all! I'd cut them into bite-sized chunks (1-2 inches).
kellyg January 13, 2015
My Husband had bought a bag of already peeled garlic cloves from a big box store, why he did I have no idea, and I found this recipe while trying to find a way to use them all! It worked perfectly, was absolutely delicious and was super easy because of the big box garlic! It has been added to my recipe file.
Erin C. October 30, 2014
Made this for a 2nd time this evening - chicken comes out well, but I always end up with tons of liquid (probably about 2C) even though I've added less than the recommended amount. Both times I've just added in some quinoa and cooked it down which tastes wonderful, but wondering if anyone else ending up with this much residual liquid as well?
Author Comment
Merrill S. October 30, 2014
Yes, this is all yummy sauce and one of the best parts of the recipe, in my opinion! Great for soaking up with crusty bread.
Mercuria July 14, 2014
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.<br /><br />However, the image shown with the article is of leg quarters, not legs. Pet peeve - take a picture of the actual recipe!
Author Comment
Merrill S. July 14, 2014
This is the actual recipe -- leg quarters and whole legs are the same thing, aren't they? Are you maybe thinking of drumsticks?
Brian June 9, 2014
This looks like it would be great with some fennel in there as well. Great recipe - it makes me want to go roast something!
savvynewyorker April 20, 2014
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.
Andrea Y. April 18, 2014
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?
Author Comment
Merrill S. April 18, 2014
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.
marymary April 16, 2014
I don't have Tarragon, but I have plenty of Vermouth and everything else! This is definitely on my menu for next week. <br /><br />TIP: I haven't tried this magical garlic-peeling technique yet, but apparently peels garlic in a snap... When in doubt, always ask Food52 and Martha. :-)
cookinalong April 13, 2014
Tarragon sounds perfect! I love rosemary, but tarragon is one of those herbs so often forgotten, but so distinctive. Thanks for the reminder
aahni April 13, 2014
The original recipe by James Beard used tarragon. The recipe has been a favotite of my family for many years<br />
cookinalong April 11, 2014
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!
Carol April 11, 2014
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!