French feast: chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

There is something so wonderfully cosy and traditional about serving chicken for a Sunday lunch. The idea can sometimes be a bit intimidating, when all you want to do is relax with family and friends. However, there are so many recipes which are seriously easy - and this is one of them.

I first learnt to make this dish in the French town of Ceret. At the Saturday morning at the market, I was completely seduced by the huge displays of creamy, white garlic with its soft papery skin. Although the 40 cloves in this dish sounds rather overpowering, the final result is not. The garlic is slowly caramelised in its skin as it cooks and becomes sweet and creamy, with no fiery pungency. As the chicken is pot roasted, the chicken is also wonderful juicy - with none of the worries of dryness, that often come with straight out roasting. The added bonus of the dish is also that it will leave your kitchen smelling amazing!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

2 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, quartered
1 large free-range chicken
2 bay leaves
40ml (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of parsley
40 garlic cloves, skin on
300ml white wine


1. Preheat oven to 190C. Cut one celery stalk into small pieces and place in the cavity of the chicken along with the bay leaves and two sprigs each of parsley, thyme and rosemary and 5 cloves of garlic. Tie the legs together with kitchen string to secure, then rub the chicken with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. In a casserole dish (which will fit the chicken snugly) scatter 10 garlic cloves, remaining herbs, carrot, celery and onion. Place the chicken ontop of the herbs and vegetables. Add the remaining garlic cloves and wine and bring to the boil on the stovetop over medium heat. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove lid and roast for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown.

3. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and strain juices into a small saucepan (reserve the garlic cloves). Spoon off the fat and then boil for a few minutes and then turn down the heat and allow to reduce and thicken slightly.

4. Cut the chicken into serving portions, and place on a bed of mashed potato. Pour over some of the sauce and scatter with garlic. Serve along with toasted baguette slices, which are best spread with the soft flesh of the garlic, squeezed from the skins.


  1. I've never made this chicken dish but I've heard of it. Your photos are very inspiring!

  2. Thank you mimi - this recipe is definitely worth a try - it will make your whole home smell amazing!!


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Maira Gall