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Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I had never made this dish before and last night I made Alton Brown's version.


I made it in a LeCreuset and as I was about to put it in the oven, I realized that the recipe calls for no wine, water or stock. Thinking that it might dry out in the oven, I threw in about 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Then I looked at a bunch of recipes on various websites and they all called for some sort of liquid. In the end, the flavor was good, but the chicken was a bit dry and I was disappointed.

So here are my questions -- is it a mistake that there is no liquid to be added? Should I have not used my LeCreuset? While somewhat similar, are the other recipes better (i.e. James Beard's version?)? This version was particularly easy, which was nice.


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  1. I use a recipe I received from the chef at the Park & Orchard in NJ. I brown lightly floured, seasoned chicken parts in oil at high heat, with two bulbs of unpeeled garlic cloves broken up and tossed into the frypan (a large one!) I turn the chicken after it browns on one side, and brown again on the other, turning down the heat to avoid burning the chicken or garlic. I pour off some of the fat, and turn down the heat, adding 1/3 C cognac or armangac to deglaze the pan, while the garlic and chicken drain on a paper towel. Then I add 1/2 C white wine and reduce. I place the chicken in a clay or pyrex baking dish, pour the liquid over the chicken and garlic, and bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes.

    Mashed potatoes work, as does swiss chard.

    1. Did you use a broiler/fryer (no more than 4lbs) chicken?

      1. It is standard in most recipes to add liquid. I never like my results when I cook chicken in a covered vessel unless it is in a stew of some sort. Ths skin never gets the way I like that way and the steamed quality of the meat never compares to that of roasted (even with liquid present).

        Next time try the recipe linked below to ensure moist chicken with flavorful and crispier skin.
        Brining the chicken will help to keep it from drying out and browning chicken pieces gives a more uniform caramelization of the skin. Caramelization = good eats.

        1. I haven't made AB's recipe, preferring Nick Stellino's version... Having said that, Nick's doesn't call for stock or water; a little vermouth but the dish generates enough liquid to keep things moist.

          AB's recipes are thoroughly pretested before he airs them. Give it another try without the added ingredient and see if that produces the desired results.

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Ranger

            Chicken with a lotta garlic-- I just checked the *old* recipe I have (from Gourmet magazine, years ago?)and it does not mention cooking liquid either. I've always been happy with it. I almost always make some sort of gravy or "jus" when I serve meat, though, even if it's just a bullion cube in a cup of hot water hurriedly stirred around in the bottom of the pan.

          2. Thanks for the comments. I guess I was just expecting there to be some liquid for spooning over the chicken and/or for mopping up with bread. I think I will try a different version next time for comparison.

            1. I've made this recipe and the chicken isn't at all dry unless it's overcooked. Use a meat thermometer rather than a timer to determine when it's done.

              This is a yummy recipe, btw.

              1. There's half a cup of oil in the pot. That's liquid.

                I've never made Alton Brown's recipe, but it's similar to Richard Olney's recipe from Simple French Cooking, which has a *lot* of sauce.

                The 1967 Gourmet recipe has no liquid in the pot:


                3 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I did not make the entire 8 pieces of chicken, so I cut back on the oil. My guess is that it just cooked for too long.

                  1. re: valerie

                    IT's often very difficult to assess the merit of a recipe unless the recipe is followed as directed.

                    1. re: valerie

                      Olney's version cooks even longer, for an hour and 45 minutes. It's sealed with a flour-paste roll to retain moisture.

                  2. I tried the Alton Brown recipe again this past weekend and I must say, it was excellent! I followed the recipe exactly, except that after cooking the chicken for an hour (recipe says 1 1/2 hours), I checked the meat with a thermometer and it was done. And I couldn't believe how delicious it was. I can't wait to make it again!

                    Here are 2 photos -- one before going in the oven and one of the finished dish.

                    1. Valerie,

                      i have made the 40 cloves and a chicken (A;ton Brown's recipe) many times. No liquid. just follow his way, sooooooooooooooooo perfectly yummy!

                      1. I've made the dish frequently using similar ingredients without any stock or additional liquid and also less oil. Instead of using a skillet, I use a heavy dutch oven and a lower oven temperature, about 300 degrees. With the heavy dutch oven and lower temperature, the finish dish will have enough liquid from the juice of the chicken. If I am not lazy, I make a dough with flour and water and use it to seal the lid. The dryness of your dish is result of braising it too high of a temperature and the loss of moisture if your skillet cover is not heavy and tight.

                        1. I make some similar chicken recipes and do not add any wate/liquid. The chicken flesh itself throws off a lot of water---enough to facilitate cooking, and the results with out adding liquid create some delicious caramelization. I wouldn't add water. I agree with the theory that the chicken was cooked for too long. Glad you had success with the recipe the second time.