Ina Garten’s Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic Has Hundreds of 5 Star Reviews — and I Get Why

published Sep 22, 2023
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Ina Garten's 40 clove garlic chicken
Credit: Lena Abraham

Ina Garten has a recipe for just about every possible situation. There’s country strawberry cake for berry picking season, chicken and orzo soup for sick days, and roasted eggplant parm for dinner parties with your vegetarian friends. Of course, now that winter’s on its way, we’re wondering what dish works best for stormy days. According to the legend herself, the cozy dinner required for a blustery day is her Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. With an endorsement like that, I knew I had to give it a try. Plus, as a garlic lover, I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Credit: Lena Abraham

How to Make Ina Garten’s 40 Clove Chicken      

To make the big job of peeling 40 cloves of garlic a bit easier, this recipe starts by blanching the cloves briefly to loosen the skin. To do so, separate the cloves from 3 heads of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and let it cool slightly before peeling. Set aside.

Next, lay two 3 1/2 pound chickens that have been broken down into eight pieces (or 7 pounds assorted chicken pieces) on a bed of paper towels. Pat them dry and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides.

To cook the chicken, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sauté the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until golden on both sides, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate when it’s done and continue to sauté all the chicken in batches. Once all the chicken has been seared, add garlic to the pot. Lower the heat to medium and sauté garlic for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of Cognac and 1 1/2 cups of dry white wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves. Cover pot and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat to medium, add another tablespoon of Cognac and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, and boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve with chopped parsley, if desired.

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s 40 Clove Chicken 

Though it’s been quite a while since I’ve been stuck inside during a snowstorm, I definitely see Ina’s vision. This ultra-rich and incredibly savory dish is exactly the type of thing I crave when the temperature takes a nosedive. The sauce, which is loaded with sweet, nutty, butter-soft roasted garlic, makes this the type of dish that absolutely requires a side of potatoes or crusty bread to ensure no drop goes to waste. The chicken itself was juicy and tender, but its main function is to be a vessel for the sauce. Both homey and decadent, I think this dish would be perfect for a wintery dinner party or holiday celebration.

Aside from the deep garlicky flavor, the taste of alcohol — in the form of white wine and Cognac — is very much present. If you’re not typically a fan of that flavor, I’d skip this one. The alcohol is pretty crucial to the sauce (though it’d be worth experimenting with other liquids like chicken broth), and even though the harshness is cooked out, their flavor is still front-and-center in this dish. 

Two Tips For Making Ina Garten’s 40 Clove Chicken

  1. Don’t crowd your chicken. The more space you leave between your chicken pieces when searing them, the crispier and more golden they’ll get. Even better, they’ll leave more tasty brown bits at the bottom of your pan that will later flavor the sauce. 
  2. Use good garlic. Since garlic is the main component of this sauce, the quality of the garlic can really affect the flavor of the final dish. Avoid using old, sprouting garlic, or cloves that feel soft or are beginning to discolor.