Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

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I want to say that I was perusing a copy of Cooking Light magazine the other day, sitting in my cosy reading nook, with daylight filtering through gauzy curtains with a cup of chamomile tea sitting on a tea table near by, but the reality is that I was clicking my mouse on the arrows on the Cooking Light website sitting on a hard Ikea office chair at my desk.

I love that word, “peruse”, doesn’t it conjure up warm and fuzzy images of sitting in a big comfy armchair with a cup of steaming tea and leisurely thumbing through a book or magazine? I miss the days when we just had books and dusty old book shops. Even in this day of iPads, Nooks and Kindles, I still prefer to buy a book. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge electronics and technology geek. At this very moment I am typing this draft on my WordPress app on my iPad. Convenience.

I love my iPad, it does everything that my computer can do but in a handful. But reading a book or looking through a magazine is just not the same on an electronic device. I enjoy the feel of paper in my hands, the feel of the page as you turn it and the smell of the aged pages ( though many make me sneeze and itch!)

As much as I am modern and love all things scientific, technological and geeky, I am at the same time very traditional and love all things of yore. I love to try new versions but find there is something very comforting about the traditional dishes. The downside of tradition is the effect it has on your waistline. Most often than not, old family favourites are loaded with calories.  I still look for authentic dishes when I look for new recipes in a new cuisine I am trying to learn. I guess I want to know, first and foremost, how the dish was created and how the pioneers made it and served it. Then I like to see the changes made by different cooks throughout time and the results.

However, cooking is so personal to each family and we end up improvising to the likes and dislikes of our family. This is how recipes change and the good ones stand the test of time, are passed down through generations and eventually become traditions.

So, what does all this have to do with chicken and an inordinate amount of garlic? That is the recipe I was browsing on the Cooking Light website. If you’ve ever had the original, you know how delicious it is and how amazing all those garlic cloves become after a long soak in warm olive oil. This Cooking Light recipe is, of course, a lightened version of the original. It uses less oil and adds broth and you can make this one on the stove top. I made mine in the oven only because I didn’t want to stand round and mess with it.

The light result was quite delicious. The garlic had infused it’s heady aroma all through the chicken and had become all soft, caramelised and creamy. Perfect for smearing on a crispy baguette or all over the chicken and potatoes, like I did. It’s not the classic but it’s very good for an everyday meal.

Ordinarily, this French bistro dish needs only a green salad and bread; the chicken and garlic are the stars. However, since I had bought some French green lentils ( they are imported from France but not Puy), I wanted to serve those with my chicken. They were great alongside the soft, garlicky chicken and everything was so fragrant from the fresh thyme and garlic. My husbands comment: ” Oh, this chicken is so tasty” and a forkful later, ” Are these lentils? I really like these, they’re really good”

I adapted the recipe from the Cooking Light version, changing a couple of things. Hope you give it a try if you’re looking for a light version with all of the original, garlicky flavour.

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8 pieces of chicken (one chicken in 8 pieces, or 8 thighs) skinless

40 cloves of garlic ( about 2 large heads), peeled

11/4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper

squeeze of lemon


Heat a braiser or deep sauté pan on medium heat and add the oil and butter.

Dry the chicken pieces, season them with salt and pepper and brown in the oil/butter.

Once the chicken pieces are all browned evenly, remove them from the pan and keep aside.

Throw in the garlic cloves and let them brown gently.

Once the garlic cloves are browned, add the chicken back to the pan, add the thyme and low sodium chicken broth.

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

(Alternatively, you can place in the oven at 350 degrees F and cook for about 40/45 minutes.)

Once the chicken is done, remove the pieces and on medium high, reduce the liquid to barely a cup.

Add the chicken back to the pan, add some parsley, a squeeze of lemon and serve.

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What are your favourite traditional or lightened dishes? Are you a technological whiz or do you miss the old typewriter and white out method? How about carbon paper and ink ribbon?

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