Garlic Chicken with White Wine Sauce
Do like garlic? Do you like chicken? Then you’ll love garlic chicken, a classic recipe of chicken parts that have been browned in olive oil, then cooked with white wine and garlic. It’s also known as “40 Clove Chicken” because that’s how many garlic cloves you’ll use to make the dish.
So, crazy right? 40 cloves? Here’s the thing. There’s something about the browning and stewing of the garlic that completely mellows it out. I’ve always had a hard time physically tolerating garlic, and especially raw garlic. But when this many cloves are cooked in this manner, it’s not a problem.
Something similar happens when you roast garlic. The long cooking takes all the bite out of the garlic cloves and what you have left is just luscious delicious garlic-ness. Nothing coming through the pores. No having to avoid people who haven’t eaten what you’ve eaten.
The recipe is straightforward. You can make this classic garlic chicken in the oven or on the stovetop. This version is all done on the stovetop in one pan.
The thing that can be daunting is peeling all the garlic! Truthfully, you don’t have to peel the garlic if you don’t want to. They’ll cook just as well in their peels, and they’ll slide out of their peels easily once cooked. That said, most people I know don’t want to deal with random bits of inedible garlic peels on their plate.
So, the easiest way to peel the garlic cloves is to lightly smash them (just enough to crack open the peel, not obliterate them) with side of a large chef’s knife. Lightly smash all of them, then peel them. Here’s a super-quick video showing how we do it.
This recipe has been updated. First published 2008.
If using chicken breasts, cut them in half or in thirds.
Can use tarragon in place of some or all of the thyme.
- 3 pounds (1.4 kg) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or breasts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 whole heads of garlic, cloves separated (40 cloves), peeled
- Olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc (can sub with chicken stock and a teaspoon of lemon juice)
- 6 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Trim and salt the chicken: Trim the chicken pieces of excess fat. Sprinkle them lightly with salt. Let sit at room temp while you peel the garlic.
2 Peel the garlic cloves: Lightly smash the garlic cloves with the side of a heavy chef's knife, just enough to break the cloves. Peel.
3 Brown the chicken: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven (or a large thick-bottom pan with a tight fitting cover) on medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Lay the chicken pieces on the hot oil, do not move until browned, then turn over to other side using tongs. Remove from pan when browned.
4 Sauté the garlic: Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
5 Add the wine, thyme, chicken, cook until done: Add the wine and the sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side-up. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part reads 160-165°F.
6 Season with salt and pepper, serve with sauce: Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken pieces to a platter; spoon garlic sauce over the chicken.
If you want, you can thicken the sauce with a little flour, cornstarch, or cream. As it is, it works great over rice, egg noodles, or mashed potatoes. (Skip starches for low carb option.)