“Baby” Chicken & 40 Cloves

A Chicken & 40 Cloves is a classic dish, and it should be, because it’s delicious. Like so many other classic dishes, Alton Brown is our source for the ultimate Chicken & 40 Cloves, intially. We’ve had it several times before, but this time I tried it with a twist, using Cornish Game Hens in place of the normal chicken. It was definitely a success. The cornish game hens made the meal seem a little fancier than our average dinner around here, but if you prefer, you can make this dish with any skin-on, bone-in chicken. We’ve used a whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces before, and we’ve also used this method on a couple of split chicken breasts. In a pinch, we’ve even used boneless skinless chicken breasts (which isn’t quite as good, but is passable).

I served this chicken with parmesan risotto and lots of crusty bread to soak up the tasty garlic oil, spread with soft, sweet cloves of roasted garlic. The garlic bread might be the best part!


“Baby” Chicken & 40 Cloves (Cornish Game Hens)
Adapted from Alton Brown’s A Chicken & 40 Cloves

  • 3 cornish game hens, cleaned and patted dry
  • 1 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 40 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled, but kept whole
  • salt & freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat, just until the surface starts to shimmer.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning over the breast side of the cornish game hens and then place breast side down in the skillet. Heat for 4-5 minutes or until the skin begins to brown. Flip each hen over.

Add all 40 cloves of garlic to the pan, around the cornish hens, and pour the remaining cup of olive oil over the whole skillet. Bake for 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through and garlic is soft and  spreadable.

Note: I know a cup of oil sounds crazy, but it’s delicious garlic oil that goes deliciously on bread, or can be drizzled over vegetables or mashed potatoes. And don’t waste that garlic. Get yourself a crusty loaf of french or italian bread, slice it, lightly toast it, then brush each slice with some of your garlic oil. Spread one or two cloves of the roasted garlic, then sprinkle with just a smidge of parmesan cheese. Roasted garlic has such a sweet, mellow flavor compared to the garlic you’re probably used to. You don’t know what you’re missing.

I actually smash the leftover garlic into a paste and save it for other dishes. I’ve added leftovers from this batch to pasta salad, mashed potatoes, and sun-dried tomato aioli. I wonder what I’ll do with the rest?

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4 Responses to ““Baby” Chicken & 40 Cloves”

  1. Ysobel

    Mmmmm this looks so yummy. And the whole bread thing sounds amazing, too.

  2. Mom

    this certainly looks good but it is a week too late. We had cornish hens last week.

  3. Teri

    You’ve had the chicken & 40 cloves recipe before–I made it when I was at home.

  4. Mom

    oh for the good ole days when you were home

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