40 Clove Garlic Chicken

5 from 2 votes
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French 40 clove garlic chicken is one of the great farmhouse dishes of that country. The long, slow braising process mellows all that garlic into something warm, soft and cozy. 

And even better from my perspective? You can absolutely use pheasant, rabbit or other white meats in this recipe. 

40 clove garlic chicken on a plate
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

One of the cool things about pheasant is that they are so close to chickens that you can interchange recipes quite often. So you only need to make a few tweaks to make 40 clove garlic chicken with pheasant.

Yes, there are, more or less, 40 cloves of garlic in this recipe. Don’t worry, it all gets slow roasted together, which mellows the garlic out considerably. Think roasted garlic spread over toasty bread, and you get the idea.

The great American chef James Beard is credited with bringing 40 clove garlic chicken to the attention of the country, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is of Provencal origin, in southern France, and is super easy to make.

At it’s essence, this dish is a slow cooked mix of garlic, chicken pieces, olive oil, a little white wine or vermouth, plus onions, herbs and a few optional vegetables. It’s a one pot dish, a homey dinner.

Since it is cooked for an hour or more, you will want to skip breasts here; they’ll get too dried out. I stick with pheasant thighs here, skin on. You can make this dish with skinless thighs, too. If you are using store-bought chicken, you can use drumsticks, but skip this if you are using pheasant because the sinews in pheasant legs are too tough.

Closeup of 40 clove garlic chicken
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Other than the traditional chicken legs or the pheasant thighs I mention, you can use rabbit, whole quail, halved Cornish game hens, chukars or Hungarian partridges, or even whole squirrels.

OK, I can hear some of you saying, “Hank, this dish sounds amazing, but no way am I peeling 40-plus cloves of garlic.” Yes you are, and here’s how. Watch this video. It takes like 20 seconds. Or you can cheat and use pre-peeled garlic.

After that, you will want some greenery, like tarragon and parsley or somesuch. Basil’s nice in summer, lovage, thyme and savory all work well.

You have a choice. The original recipe does not, inexplicably, crisp the skin. I do. I do this by searing just the skin of the pheasant thighs in olive oil, then, at the end, uncovering the casserole dish for maybe 20 minutes to re-crisp it. Looks and works great.

You’ll want some sturdy bread to go with your 40 clove garlic chicken, as it’s saucy and you want bread to sop it all up with.

Looking for other great recipes for chicken or pheasant thighs? Try my braised pheasant with root vegetables, or my pheasant legs with mushrooms recipe

Closeup of 40 clove garlic chicken
5 from 2 votes

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

See my notes above for using pheasant or other white meats. Once made, this will keep in the fridge for a few days. Reheat it slowly in a 350°F oven until warmed through.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 to 16 chicken or pheasant thighs, see above for substitutions
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups white or yellow onion, sliced from root to tip
  • 40 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
  • 1 cup white vermouth or white wine


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large, lidded pot over medium-high heat. Sear the skin of the pheasant breasts until nicely browned. If you are using skinless thighs, skip this step. Remove the pheasant pieces as they brown.
  • Add the celery and onion and sauté, stirring often, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the garlic cloves, herbs, salt and black pepper and mix well. Pour in the vermouth. Nestle the pheasant thighs into this, skin side up and above the level of the liquid.
  • Cover the pot and bake in the oven 1 hour. Uncover the pot and continue to cook until the the top of the meat is browned, typically 20 minutes. Serve with lots of good bread.


In general, you'll want about 3 pounds of bone-in white meat for this recipe, from rabbits to partridges, Cornish hens, grouse or partridges. 

Keys to Success

  • I definitely recommend skin-on thighs for this recipe, since the crispy skin at the end is one of the stars of the show. 
  • If you have a choice, find hardneck garlic; it has fewer, larger cloves that are more fun to eat than those little internal cloves of softneck. 
  • The wine you use in the recipe should be what you drink. A white Cotes du Rhone or even a white Bordeaux would be nice here. 


Calories: 460kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 182mg | Potassium: 764mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 521IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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  1. Could not find recipe for Pheasant cakes. You referenced them in Confit Pheasant Sous vide recipe could you send it to

  2. Hey Hank Shaw, my name is Phil Schmidt and I just accidentally discovered your site while doing research on fermented pepper sauce. You helped me clarify my questions on that issue. Thanks! You interested me enough to look further and, right off the bat, you posted the 40 clove chicken recipe which sounds very fine and could rival my best chicken recipe, given me by my very good friends wife. I am a hunter/ gatherer/ gardener/ designer/ builder/ artist/ observer and admirer of precious life. I want to praise you for your energy and work. Good luck going forward. I could probably send many copies of your Buck, Buck, Moose to many of my good hunting/ fishing Gems.

  3. this is a really favourite of mine, i know it as Spanish chicken. which ever side of the pyrenees your bread is buttered its delicious.