Monday, June 11, 2007

Chicken with Forty-One Cloves of Garlic

It was my neighbour Erica who suggested Chicken with 40 cloves of Garlic. In France this is known as known as "Poulet a Quarante Gousses d'Ail". The Great Big Veg Challenge tries to bring out the best in every vegetable, making it feel special so that it stands the strongest chance of impressing Freddie. And in this recipe the garlic is supercharged. If you have heard of the tv show, "Pimp my Ride!",well this is Pimp my Chicken. And to make something involving industrial quantities of garlic, you need helpers. Alex and Freddie were given the task of breaking open the garlic bulbs and counting out the cloves as I set to work preparing the poor chicken. By now my husband had given up and resigned himself to having to defumigate the house, the children and his wife

I always feel a little intimidated trying out traditional French recipes. I know how seriously these things are taken. We once had a holiday in Provence and rented a house belonging to a Mrs Tiggywinkle look-alike, known as Madame P. She was many important things in the village but was best known for being the local aïoli-making champion. At the annual competition Madame P came first, several points ahead of her local rivals and a brave American visitor who scored just 3 out of 10. Mme P was overheard judging the American's aïoli as "pas mal", adding that she had committed the cardinal sin of using "deux oeufs". The time-hallowed rule (unwritten of course) only allowed for the use of one egg.
There seem to be hundreds of versions of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Some involve heart-stopping quantities of oil, others add interlopers like carrots and onions. I decided to keep it simple and a little less oily. I don't know whether the number 40 has some deep significance in the garlic world but Freddie and Alexandra thought 41 a more significant number. The garlic cloves stay in their skins and are roasted. The end result is smooth and mouth-watering.

Poulet a Quarante et Un Gousses d'Ail

1 chicken, jointed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
41 cloves of garlic in their skins
3 tbsp of chopped parsley
3 tbsp of chopped thyme
3 glasses of white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.
On the hob gently melt the butter in a large flame-proof casserole dish. Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Add the garlic cloves, still in their skins, chopped parsley,thyme and wine and the olive oil. Mix around. Put lid on the dish and place in the oven for about 45-50 minutes. Half way through that time, baste the chicken and garlic with all the juices.
Serve with a warm baguette.

The children loved the sweetness of the garlic which they squished and ate with their bread. And the garlic-fest didn't end there. There were around 20 leftover roasted cloves of garlic which we pureed and added to mashed potato.
The following morning, the house reeked. Chris ate his breakfast in the garden as we gargled to sweeten our breath. Poulet a Quarante et Un Gousses d'Ail is not for the faint-hearted.


  1. Poor Chris! But I have to admit, I can't imagine a week, or even a day, without using garlic. And I love this recipe. I remember making this for Helen and I years ago and devouring the whole chicken with a simple wine gravy and the rest of the wine and thinking, 'This is indulgence'.

  2. Great Big Veg Challenge9:43 AM

    It is indulgence and the children really loved it because of that. Its like eating too many strawberries or chips. It is so nice.

  3. This is beautiful. My children would love this recipe. You could put this dish outside on the grill and it would be wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing your Veggie Challenge with us. My family and I are exploring a few of these along with you. However, my kids think celeriac was something created by J.K. Rowling...a true troll of a vegetable.

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

  4. this looks wonderful and would be perfect for the open-window weather we have now! hopefully the cross-breezes will carry some of the garlic smell outdoors!

  5. mmmm...that's real comfort food! Looks fantastic.

  6. I can smell the garlic from here! Your recipes are always so inspirational and your writing is such a delight to read.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  7. I love garlic. Both these receipes have seriously got my gastric juices running. Yummo. Can I come round for dinner? (I just bought a sorrel plant so I could bring sorrel!!)

  8. Great Big Veg Challenge3:30 PM

    Sounds a good idea - what can we do with sorrel and garlic?

  9. I made that dish this weekend. What a pure delight. Not for everyone.


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