Wednesday, November 24, 2010

James Beard's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I'm going to go ahead and say something: I don't understand people who say they like white meat more than dark. Or to an even higher degree, people who don't like dark meat at all. To me, in comparison to dark meat, white meat is so dry and flavorless, it may as well be cardboard. Really, what kind of person chooses a breast over a drumstick?! Well. Aside from a healthy one, that is.

Anyway, health matters notwithstanding, in my view the legs are by far the tastiest part of any bird (chicken, turkey, duck, you name it). That's why when I come across a recipe that calls exclusively for thighs or drumsticks, chances are I'm making it. Such was the case this weekend when I was perusing the poultry section of The New York Times Essential Cookbook and came across this beauty of a recipe. The famed James Beard loved it--apparently he used to teach it in a lot of his classes--and after I tasted it, I could see exactly why. The chicken comes out of the oven incredibly juicy and tender and fragrant. It practically falls off the bone. One bite, and I was sold. This is an easy one-pot meal that I'll be making over and over again. Go ahead and try it--it'll be worth your while. xo

James Beard's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
From The New York Times Essential Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser
4 stalks celery, cut into long strips
2 medium onions
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled
6 sprigs parsley
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
2/3 cup olive oil
16 chicken legs--any mix of drumsticks and thighs
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup dry vermouth
Sliced French bread, warmed or toasted

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the bottom of a heavy 8-quart casserole with one-third of the celery, onions, garlic, parsley, and tarragon. Place the oil in a shallow dish. Dip one-third of the chicken pieces into the oil, coating all sides evenly, and place in the casserole. Sprinkle with one-third of the salt and pepper and a few gratings of the nutmeg. Repeat to make 2 more layers. Pour the vermouth over the chicken.

Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and fit the lid over the foil to create and airtight seal. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, without removing the cover. Check the chicken for doneness; return the casserole to the oven if the chicken seems underdone.

Serve the chicken along with the pan juices, the garlic, and thin slices of French bread to be spread with garlic squeezed from the root ends of the cloves.


  1. i love alton's garlic with 40 cloves, but his calls for peeling the garlic (and a whole chicken, so you can pick your favorite part), so this unpeeled version looks much easier in comparison!

  2. It looks really good, thanks for sharing it with us