40 Cloves and a Chicken

40 Cloves and a Chicken

Despite the fact that this is classic European peasant fare, modern cooks tend to avoid it because unless you have a chronic vampire problem, 40 cloves seems…excessive. Ah! But when cooked into the dish the result is a smooth, sweet, earthy flavor and an aroma that wraps the kitchen like a hug. Make sure you have bread on hand to spread the soft cloves onto and don’t forget to sop up that oil. Yes, all of it!

40 Cloves and a Chicken
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  1. 1 3-to-4 pound broiler/fryer chicken, cut into eight pieces
  2. kosher salt, to taste
  3. black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  4. 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  5. 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  6. 40 cloves garlic, peeled
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the oil.
  3. In a 12-inch straight-sided oven-safe sauté pan over high heat, cook the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Remove the pan from the heat; add the remaining 1/2 cup oil, the thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes with the lid on. Serve family style with plenty of toasted bread to spread the softened, fragrant garlic on.
  1. Yields: Approximately 6 servings
ALTON BROWN https://altonbrown.com/


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  1. 2
    Michael Stout

    Hey AB, I love this recipe. However, my wife is a vegetarian and thus whenever I cook meat I’m the only one eating it. I also get tired of leftovers quickly, so eight pieces is a bit much. Two questions:

    How would I reconfigure this recipe for chicken thighs only (4 total)?
    Is there a vegetarian entree option that could work with this recipe?

  2. 3

    There is a lot of comments and I do not feel like searching to see if the same question has already been asked…can I use a different salt. I prefer sea or Himalayan salt.

    • 4
      Trent Gerein

      Salt is salt. Just make sure you adjust for the coarseness of it (eg. 1 pinch of superfine salt is more than 1 pinch of coarse sea salt).

  3. 7

    I can’t wait to try Alton’s version and also LOL at the girl who misunderstood the recipe and thinks she’s going to add cloves.. that should be different.

  4. 8
    Erika Nulan

    If you use a Dutch oven rather than a large skillet you risk crowding the pan and the vhicen eill steam during the first cook rathet than brown

    • 10
      Brooks DAVIS DDS

      Absolutely it would, just make sure that the lid fits well, use regular olive oil, not extra virgin olive oil. On the olive oil, I am just passing on Alton’s notes from this recipe in one of his cookbooks which I possess.

      Follow the instructions exactly, no peeking at all. Run the entire time, the final results are worth it.

    • 11
      Erika Nulan

      If you use a Dutch oven rather than a large skillet you risk crowding the pan and the vhicen eill steam during the first cook rather than brown

      • 12
        Brooks DAVIS DDS

        Yes, but you get around that by Browning the chicken first in batches as per the recipe. No problem at all with a dutch oven, that’s what I use and what it is designed for.

      • 13
        Brooks DAVIS DDS

        Actually, Erika, a dutch oven is perfect for this recipe, and many others. You get around this by following the recipe directions, browning the chicken in batches in the dutch oven on the stovetop, when finished browning, place all of the of ingredients in the dutch oven, close the lid , 350 degree oven for 1 1.5 hours. Perfect every time in a dutch oven. Browning in batches is Cooking 101..

  5. 14

    This is my husband’s favorite recipe that I’ve pulled out for dinner. He’d shake your hand and possibly kiss you if the opportunity ever presented itself.
    I’m pretty sure if I’d made this on our first date he would’ve asked me to marry him immediately. Didn’t take him long anyway, but I should have done it.

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