Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. It almost writes itself….

Chicken wiht 40 cloves of garlic (1 of 1)It’s such a wheeze. Blog posting, I mean. All you have to do is have an idea and start typing. Easy. It’s so simple, particularly when you have a dish called Chicken and 40 Cloves of Garlic. It practically writes itself. All you have to do is type out the various ’40’ related ideas that present themselves and fling in a simple recipe. What could be easier?

Well actually, that is not the whole truth. Because just like Ali Baba, somebody has whispered “Open Sesame”, snuck into my mind, and stolen all the ’40’ ideas. So, I will have to work at this a bit. Let’s start with the ingredients.

Cooking it was easier than writing about it. So few ingredients!

Cooking it was easier than writing about it. So few ingredients!


  • 8 chicken legs
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 40 cloves of garlic
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • A handful of tarragon
  • 2 onions
  • A glass of Vermouth
  • Half a nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 4 cubes of highly concentrated chicken stock, if you have made some. (Optional).
  • A loaf of sourdough bread to accompany

Back in the 1930s, there used to be a mendicant in Dublin called Johnny Forty Coats. If you can find  way to work him into this, you are doing better than me.

The first thing to do is to separate out the cloves. Then slice up the onions and celery.

Chicken wiht 40 cloves of garlic (1 of 1)-2

There is more than 40 slices of onion. Why does the name not stick. “Chicken with lots of onion”, perhaps?

Brown the chicken pieces in the bottom of a casserole.

Chicken with 40 clover of garlic (2 of 12)

I could give you 40 reasons to use good corn-fed chicken. That would be stretching it.

Remove the chicken when it is nice and brown. Add the celery and onion. Place the chicken on top, season and pour in the Vermouth.

Chicken with 40 clover of garlic (7 of 12)

Did you know that 40 different botanicals are used to create the 4 styles of Martini?

Place in the 40 cloves of garlic and chicken stock (if using).

Chicken with 40 clover of garlic (8 of 12)

The concentrated chicken stock adds a huge depth of flavour. Worth making it, for sure.

Sprinkle it with the tarragon and grate over the nutmeg.

Chicken with 40 clover of garlic (9 of 12)

I grated it 40 times in an effort to get some forty related thoughts going.

Place a tight-fitting lid (add a layer of aluminium foil) and place it in the oven for 40 minutes (yes, 40) at 190ºC.  Toast the sourdough, pour some nice wine. Serve and enjoy this deliciousness.

Chicken with 40 clover of garlic (11 of 12)

The garlic is so delicious, 40 cloves are not near enough!

The garlic is best squeezed onto the bread and then spread like a thick layer of butter. Despite my complete failure to get even a half decent forty related theme going, this dish is delicious. You could even say it was fortifying. Give it a go.

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  • Umm all that garlic sounds great – and I think you tied in the “40” theme quite well, my favourite being that it’s fortifying. 😀

    • Thanks Maggie,
      It at least proves that you read all the way to the bottom! The garlic was delicious.

      • Haha! Well, it’s the least I could do after such a great lead-in! Plus, it just sounds great!

  • I know this dish well and have great affection for it….such good flavours. I rarely/never have a bottle of vermouth so I add whatever grabs me at that time….I quite liked the anis flavour of pastis. Chardonnay is a good idea with this…although it would be French:)

    • Roger,
      I suspect that I would not have bothered with the vermouth except for there being the dregs of a bottle sitting at the back of the press for a decade at least. On the French Chardonnay, I will be over there doing some comparative tastings later in the year. All in the interests of science, of course….

    • The Margaret River wineries in Western Australia make world class Chardonnay. Just sayin’…

  • If I hit ‘like’ 40 times will you have me over to dinner? Lovely dish.

    • Thanks Linda, once was enough. You are welcome for dinner any time.

  • This looks amazing – I will definitely try it with some of our naked neck chicken. In Middle Eastern culture and literature 40 is used to represent ‘a lot’ rather than 40 – so the 40 thieves were just a lot of thieves (40 days and 40 nights ??) – would it work with the garlic thing I wonder ??

    • Strangely, I now remember reading something about the 40 being lots before. It didn’t strike me when I was writing this. And, in truth, I never believed the 40 days and 40 nights thing anyway. It was probably just a long weekend! (I hope I don’t roast in hell for saying that.). On the lots of garlic end, the more the better in my book.

  • looks delicious – how many do your recipes feed – am about to do the tagine virgin meat balls for 10….

    • Hi Hen, I fed five with the chicken and six with the meatballs. I hoe you have a big tajine.

  • This looks delicious! I’ve often toyed with the idea of garlic chicken but if I cook with more than 3 cloves there’s usually a complaint about the smell “How much bloody garlic are you using there?”

    • Don’t tell him. Once it’s in the oven, the aromas (not “smell”) soften to deliciousness. Butter his toast with some and he will be converted. If that fails, kick him out.

      • Ooh, don’t tempt me Conor! If I started saying aromas he’d be very suspicious. The funny thing is, I never get any complaints about the taste of the finished product, at least not because of garlic.

        • Threaten him with fling out. Then he will come around to your way of thinking.

  • Life begins at forty – obviously that’s got something to do with garlic. It looks fabulous and definitely my kind of dish 🙂

    • For me MD, life began a good while ago. Hopefully, it will begin again at 60 so I have something to which I can look forward.

      • I’m sure there must be a 60 garlic clove recipe 😉

      • life began for me at 17
        but that was 40 yrs ago 😉

        • Pretty much the same for me Pete. It’s amazing how youthful I am. It must be the garlic!

  • Looks absolutely delicious, but I feel like I probably wouldn’t be smooching my wife right after this meal!

    • If you both eat it, your cooking / smooching will be brought to a new level of eroticism. But, that’s your business.

  • Delicious, everything, really! I love the garlic and the bread part a lot. A friend of ours did the same. Every time he would serve soft yummy, oily cloves of garlic to put on bread for an appetizer. Ah, and by the way, the bread looks perfect. I miss the good German bread 😉

    • It is amazing how the garlic softens and sweetens in the cooking. It is delicious for sure.

    • Re the German. Bread, as a German I of course miss it a lot, like an Irish person the potatoes (those I miss as well) 🙂

  • Seriously, did you actually count out 40 cloves or garlic, or was it more a case of “1..2..3…lots”? And do you suppose it would taste different with 30 or 50 instead? You’ve given it your best go with the forty-derivatives, but I think you’ve missed fortitude, of the sort necessary to face the dragon breath that ensues from such liberal garlic consumption. Still, num num!

    • I have to fess up. I used three bulbs. There were 43 in total. But, if I got into trying to write a post called Chicken with 43 cloves of garlic, you would all have thought I had gone off the deep end. Fortitude would have been wonderful Though, I was proud of fortify….

  • Well there sure won’t be any vampires, now will there? 😉

    • They are welcome to try Debbie. Though I think they may find things easier elsewhere.

  • So delicious, especially with the mellowed garlic squeezed onto crusty bread! Oh, and how about “40 Shades of Garlic” to compliment your virgin meatball theme? 😉

    • *complement

    • 40 shades of garlic would have brought things away from the virgin theme far too quickly, I think. Or, put another way, how did I miss it!

  • I made this WAYYYY long ago (40 years ago? No that would be stretching it but close) after my mom gave me one of those Junior League spiral-bound recipe books in college that had this recipe. I’m not too sure it had the Vermouth in it though. You might not have those types of cook books in Dublin, but they were quite the rage in the States back then. They were fundraiser cook books, replete with canned tuna casseroles, molded jellos with fruit and marshmallows, and yes, 40-clove garlic chicken. You did a fine job with this. Thank you for the inspiration to make it again, it’s been way too long.

    • Kathryn,
      The cookbook thing sounds pretty frightening. I understand the lack of Vermouth. Glad I brought you back.

  • First of all, so glad that you used chicken legs and thighs. Chicken breasts — note I did say “chicken” — breasts are so overrated and I rarely prepare them. I’ve seen similar recipes but never thought to prepare one and cannot figure out why. It calls for 40 cloves of garlic, for criminy sakes. That alone should have called to me years ago. Enough! I’ve got to make this. Thanks, Conor.

    • John, I am shocked that you have not ventured into this part of garlic heaven. You have to redress that. I do remember, about 30 years ago, an old chap in a gentlemans’ club on Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green chortling to a group of us that he was “a breast man”. Despite my lack of religion, I’m more catholic in my tastes.

  • Here’s one for you, Conor, although you did touch on it slightly. U2 have a song called ’40’ which is only ever played at the end of their gigs. I’d wager that by the time this amount of garlic rocks up, just like the song, if you haven’t scored by then, it’s time to go home with satisfaction of a different kind.

    • I can just imagine telling the Wife that that was how I went about things, with me and a floozy standing on the doorstep…

  • Thank you for calling up a wonderful memory. When I was a child, my mother made a dish similar to this one – the forty cloves of garlic is the tie-in. Needless to say, it was delicious, this dish sounds delicious, and we were all wonderfully aromatic for a while. By the way, “fortifying?” – ouch.

    • Thanks, I really enjoyed getting the last shot in!

  • I feel like I should offer up a prayer — or forty — of thanksgiving. The garlic schmear on the sourdough toast…

    • You could spend the 40 days and 40 nights doing it, while I eat all the garlic!

  • Very ‘you’, Conor (and that is a compliment, obviously). As 40 is a pretty random number, you could have made it easier by picking another one. Like 50. There must be… 50 ways to cook a chicken. Just make a new plan, Stan, don’t need to overcook, Luke, add some more salt, Walt, and get you some cloves.

    • The temptation to write another post with the Paul Simon classic is very tempting…. Try some of my pie, Guy and set yourself free….

  • I can’t compete with all the clever comments above, I’ll just say deeeelish. This is one of my favourite wintery chicken dishes

    • Hi Sandra,
      This one brought them out, for sure. Maybe my forte (Forte, get it!) is in reviving once dead dishes and showing them to the young folk (those under 40)?

  • Parfait.

  • Lovely! Just make sure everyone you’ll be seeing the next 24 hours has had some, too!

    • No doubt that that is the way to go. Mind you, when the garlic is cooked this way, it tends to not give garlic breath, or so I’m assured….

  • Lovely, I can taste this! I haven’t cooked with Vermouth in such a long time! Let’s remedee shall we? 😉

    • Do. Don’t forget to invite me!

      • Haha… I’ll do an old recipe from my Mother’s handbook; watch this space!

  • My Dad does this with meat balls which works insanely well and is probably the reason I haven;t had a cold or bug in about 10 years…great recipe boyo!!

    • That would be a fantastic combo. I am sniffling as I type. I need more garlic!

      • Warm and water and fresh lemon every morning Conor = Iron Man!

  • I love the legs and thighs. They’re much tastier in my opinion and I always hoard the dark meat. Fortunate for me, no one seems to care 😉

    • I have to say I flip and flop from one to the other. It’s a battle between texture and flavour…

      • I often tell the kids (while pointing to my mouth) ‘Different tongue’. It’s nice to have the choice isn’t it?! 😛

  • There is a restaurant in San Francisco called the Stinking Rose that does a 40 clove garlic chicken. I have to say this would give it a good run for it’s money. I’m a huge fan of garlic and I love what you did with this dish.

    • Thanks Virginia, I love the idea of the Stinking Rose. I must get to SF and look it up (if ever…).

      • SF is a fabulous place to visit. I’m also partial to it because we got engaged just up the coast so lovely memories of our weekend there.

  • Of course I’d give it a go … not just 40 times but time and time again now that I’ve bookmarked the awesome recipe 🙂
    Brilliant idea with the garlic-y chicken. Yum-yum pictures. Enjoyable write-up. My time well-spent here…as always 🙂

    • Nusrat, you bring a smile to my face and flutter to my ageing heart. Good on you. I hope the world is treating you well.

  • Conor Please help. 6 for pre theatre supper. Not the ubiquitous lasagne!
    I need tasty receipe I can prepare ahead. Any ideas Please

    • Lamb shanks are great as they slow cook over 4 hours or so. If you want to prepare something the previous day, any of the chilis on the blog will do the trick. Don’t be afraid of overheating your guests. My 85 year old Mum, who is not mad about hot stuff approves. There is a corn bread recipe too along with one of the chilis. That can be done 24 hours in advance too. Hopefully this helps.

      • Great stuff ,Thanks Conor

  • What a divine recipe! A whole new meaning to garlic! Love it!

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