Chicken Baked with 30 Cloves of Garlic

Before you cry off this one, remember that garlic, simmered gently for 1¼ hours, mellows deliciously, losing much of its pungency. I have to admit it’s probably not the thing to eat before a first date, but otherwise it’s utterly sublime. In this recipe, a huff paste (you don’t eat this) is used to make a perfect seal for the lid of the casserole, ensuring that all the juices and fragrances remain intact. It’s made in moments, but if you want to you could use foil instead.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from The Delia Collection: Chicken. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Guide to Poultry and Game Cookery)

Chicken Baked with 30 Cloves of Garlic
 1 x 4 lb (1.8 kg) chicken
 30 cloves garlic, unpeeled (3-4 heads)
 ½ oz (10 g) butter
 1 dessertspoon olive oil
 6 small sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 heaped tablespoon rosemary leaves, bruised and chopped
 10 fl oz (275 ml) white wine
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the huff paste:
 8 oz (225 g) plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
You will also need a lidded, flameproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken comfortably – about 8 pints (4.5 litres).


First of all, dry the chicken as much as possible with kitchen paper and season it well.

Next, melt the butter and oil in the casserole, then, keeping the heat fairly high, brown the chicken carefully on all sides.

This will seem a bit awkward, but all you do is protect your hands with a cloth and hold the chicken by its legs, turning it into different positions until it is a good golden colour all over; this will take 10-15 minutes in all.

After that, remove the chicken from the casserole, add the cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs, toss these around, then replace the chicken and sprinkle the chopped rosemary all over.

Next, pour the wine all around it and let it gently come up to simmering point.

Meanwhile, place the flour in a bowl and add 5 fl oz (150 ml) cold water – it should be enough to make a soft but not sticky dough – then divide the dough into 4 and roll each piece into a cylinder about 9 inches (23 cm) long on a lightly floured surface.

Now position these all around the rim of the casserole – it doesn’t matter what they look like. Place the casserole lid carefully on top, pressing down gently and making sure there are no gaps. Alternatively, simply place a double sheet of foil over the casserole before putting the lid on.

Now place the casserole in the oven and cook for 1¼ hours, then remove the lid and let the chicken continue to cook for another 10 minutes, to re-crisp the skin. Next remove the chicken from the casserole and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the carved chicken with the garlic cloves alongside and the cooking juices poured around it.

The idea is to squash the garlic cloves with a knife to release all the creamy pulp and, as you eat, dip the pieces of chicken into it.

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