The Oscar Post: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Saveur Magazine’s Apple Cobbler (with vanilla ice cream, of course) and Dazzling New YouTube Technology

The day after the Oscars the questions were pretty standard: “What did you think of Jon Stewart?” “Were you disappointed Brokeback didn’t win?” “What did you think of Charlize’s dress?” Sadly, no one asked the one question I wanted to answer: “What did you have for dinner?”

The dinner, you see, was the best part of the whole night! Observe:

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream


You’ve got nothing on me, Wolfgang Puck! Well: you have a restaurant fortune and a QVC Empire, but do you have my joie de vivre? Just count my exclamation marks and I’ll put you to shame!!!

Two nights before the Oscars, Diana and I decided she’d come over and I’d make dinner. This sort of plan makes a deep impact on my psyche: I have great internal debates about what it is I’ll cook and then I carry impossibly large cookbooks to my bed to skim before sleep. This is what we might call obsessive behavior.

But, you see, more than just cooking I love to cook for other people. The last time I had a regular audience–Lauren in Atlanta–I was still very much an amateur and tasting my food was a risky endeavor. Lately, though, I’ve gotten quite good. The balance has tipped in my favor and most of the dishes I attempt these days come out quite well. So it’s exciting to share that with others and Diana is a prime candidate. She’s very game and, more importantly, she eats meat. No one I know eats meat. Diana is a revelation.

“Should I bring anything?” she asked when we spoke on Sunday.

“Maybe some wine,” I requested.

“Sure,” she said. “White or red?”

“A dry white,” I said. “We’ll use it to cook our Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.”

I settled upon this recipe after flipping the Gourmet cookbook open to the poultry section and reading that recipe title. It reminded me of the same recipe in the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbook and in the battle of whose cuisine reigns supreme in my affections between Barefoot Contessa and Ruth Reichl, Barefoot wins, hands down. I quickly got to work assembling the ingredients:

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves (I bought 4 just in case, but only used 3–BC is always right!)


2 (3 1/2 pound) chickens, cut into eighths [I bought only one 4 lb chicken which was plenty for the 2 of us. I had the man behind the counter at Citarella cut it up.]


Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbs unsalted butter

2 Tbs good olive oil

3 Tbs Cognac, divided

1 1/2 cups dry white wine [brought by Diana]

1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbs all-purpose flour

2 Tbs heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic


and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds.


Drain the garlic and peel. [It’s super easy to peel once you blanche like this: you squeeze the cloves right out of their skins.] Set aside.


Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to a plate…

And here’s where we present our dazzling new YouTube technology. If you read the post below this (the Karla post) you’ll learn what I learned: that I can use my digital camera to record video, import the video with iPhoto, upload it to YouTube and embed it here, on the site. It’s miraculous! Expect many many embedded videos in future posts. Now watch as I calmly transfer the chicken to a plate:

And then I add the garlic as the Barefoot Contessa directs: “Add all of the garlic to the pot.”

[God, I sound so bossy on these videos: “Ok, good, stop!” Maybe I should go to directing school next?]

Anyway, back with the recipe. Here’s the browned chicken on the plate: you can see I browned it well.


But you’ve added garlic. Here’s what you do:

Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned.


Add 2 Tbs of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.


Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.


Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour…


…and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

How was it?

I’ll defer to Diana who said, and I quote, “That’s one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

Diana doesn’t speak in hyperbole often. And I concurred with her: the sauce is glorious, hymn inducing. We sang a hymn and our heavenly host misinterpreted and gave an Oscar to Reese Witherspoon over Felicity Huffman.

Chatting with Diana now, she says: “I can’t remember ever enjoying a chicken dish more.”

“And get this,” she adds. “Last night for dinner I felt like cooking… so I made the recipe! (Minus the cognac.)”

“How was it?” I ask.

“It was delicious, but the cognac adds a lot…and I used DRIED thyme, because that’s what I had, so it was not quite as good. But it was still the best chicken dish I have EVER prepared.”

There ya go. But wait, there’s more. There’s dessert!

A long time ago (more than two years ago) I baked a recipe from Saveur magazine for apple cobbler and it’s haunted me since. I loved it. So did my guests. Readers requested that I share the recipe and I never did. (I vaguely give proportions in that post, but not enough to let you make it.)

So here I am, two years later, and here’s the recipe. Have a pencil handy?

Here’s what you need:

For the apples:

1/2-3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp freshly grated nuteg

2 pinches ground cloves

3 Tbsp. honey

1/4 cup apple cider

Juice of 1 lemon

12 cortland or other sweet tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced {I used Granny Smiths and a few Rome apples]

6 Tbs. butter, cut into small pieces

For the topping:

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

10 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup rolled oats

6 Tbs. heavy cream

Vanilla ice cream

1. For the apples: preheat oven to 325. Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, honey, cider, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add apples and toss well. Put apple mixture into a large baking dish in an even layer, scatter with butter [I forgot to do this, but remembered last minute and saved the day!]


…bake, gently stirring once or twice, until apples begin to soften and release their juices, about 30 minutes. Set apples aside to cool for 30 minutes.

2. For the topping: sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together into a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal flecked with pea-size pieces of butter. Stir in oats. Add cream, stirring until just combined.

3. Increase oven temperature to 375. Scatter topping over apples in a broad band around inside edge of dish, leaving apples in center of dish exposed. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream.

Here it is out of the oven:


The smell was heavenly. So heavenly, in fact, that we sang another hymn and, once again, the heavenly host misinterpreted and gave “Crash” the Best Picture Oscar.

I swooned over this cobbler and I think Diana enjoyed it, though not as much as she enjoyed the chicken. Here she is, vocals out of synch (I suppose video recordings done on a digital camera have their limitations), discussing her feelings about chicken, cobbler, and the outcome of the Academy Awards for which I challenge her, but only as an exercise, since I do agree that “Brokeback” was a far better movie than “Crash.” (New forum topic, maybe)

Diana would like to amend this video with the following sentiment: “Say that I don’t hate Canadian men.”

Ok, got it.

“I just think women and people of color should be telling their OWN stories, not having those stories told to them by middle-aged white Canadian men.”

Can you really trust the opinion, though, of someone who feels that the cobbler wasn’t as good as the chicken when obviously they were both stupendous? The choice is yours. My thanks to the Academy.

29 thoughts on “The Oscar Post: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Saveur Magazine’s Apple Cobbler (with vanilla ice cream, of course) and Dazzling New YouTube Technology”

  1. Gasp! Taking a cookbook to bed to skim for recipes is obsessive compulsive behaviour??? I’m screwed. Better go get a book on it to bed to read to see if I have it tonight …

    I love Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. First made it years ago and when I told my ex-mistake I was making it, he looked really worried. After eating it, he just looked worried that there was no leftovers.

    Love the combo with the apple cobbler … must try that one day. You deserve the Oscar for that meal!

  2. Love the videos…this blog is by far the funniest.

    And taking cookbooks to bed… well…it sounds familiar =)

  3. Thank you Adam!!! …or ALL the instructions! I can’t wait to make the chicken….and FINALLY I can’t post video to my blog. All thanks to you.

  4. Thank you Adam!!! …for ALL the instructions! I can’t wait to make the chicken….and FINALLY I can’t post video to my blog. All thanks to you.

  5. Hey, I had oxtail soup… that’s meat AND it’s… somewhat.. Oscar-worthy. That chicken is definitely going into my “to-make” list, which is about three meters long, now.

  6. Yum! Thanks for both recipes. I’ve always wanted to but never yet made chicken w/40 cloves of garlic, and your/Contessa’s version seems perfect. Apple crumbles, crisps and cobblers I’ve made many of, but this does look like the ultimate…

  7. For an extra twist, take a look at the Williams Sonoma recipe for Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic (it’s on their website). It’s pretty much the same except that at the end, when you’ve taken the chicken out of the pot, you mash the garlic and whisk in a little liquid. The garlic thickens the sauce the way the flour would, so you can leave that out and it’s much more flavorful. Mmmmmm….

  8. I respect Diana’s opinions (on both food and the academy awards), but I just ate lunch and I have to say that apple cobbler looks enticing. I do agree though, Brokeback (and Capote) are far superior to Crash!!!!

  9. Wait, a question on the cobbler: “Scatter topping over apples in a broad band around inside edge of dish, leaving apples in center of dish exposed.” They didn’t look exposed. Did the topping melt down when it cooked or did you ignore that part?

  10. I totally agree with Diana and I’m a Chinese Canadian woman. Crash irked me because it didn’t successfully interpret what it is like to be an ethnic minority in North America. It really isn’t that hostile all the time.

    Is it strange to take cookbooks to bed? I spent the last two weeks fretting over my Oscar menu as well. Your chicken and apple cobbler look divine!

  11. Wow, Bafefoot Contessa’s 40 Garlic Chicken AND video?! I LOVE this 40 garlic chicken. Like your friend, I first made this dish at my friend’s place and fell in love with it so much that I had to make it again for myself the very next night. It really is that good!

    I am also excited to see your video (and you have a voice!). I’ve been wanting to try that out on my blog but just have not gotten around to it. Thanks for showing me it works :-) As always, a fabulous post!

  12. Aren’t you lucky — a Trader Joe’s is opening in Union Square soon (See today’s Dining section in the NYTimes) and you can buy peeled fresh garlic in a bottle there!

  13. Um, that’s not apple cobbler. That’s apple crisp. And by any name, it’s divine comfort food. Everyone needs a go-to Yellow Dinner in his/her repertoire. Quite lovely.

  14. I have the same question as Veronica. Not much looks exposed in the center. What happened?

  15. Well… i may have never taken cookbooks to bed at night, but i have taken cookbooks on a road trip. All my friends had nice, portable pocket books and i had big, heavy cookbooks instead. I had just bought some new ones and couldn’t wait to read them so i packed them. Not suprisingly, they all got tired of their books long before me lol.

  16. Hi Adam,

    reading your posts always makes my day.

    Will definitely try the combination over the weekend.

    Talking about the cookbook situation – I’m with you on this. The bulkier the better. It’s such a relief to know there’s a whole community out there who share my OCB.

  17. Oh, yeah, I’m totally with you on Felicity Huffman vs. Reese Witherspoon! Comparing their performances is like comparing apples and oranges! Or Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic and Apple Cobbler! Or… well, no, I didn’t exactly love Witherspoon’s performance in “Walk the Line” enough to equate it with cobbler. I mean, she did a commendable job, and the movie was pretty good, if predictable and formulaic, but I really don’t see why she won the Oscar. Anyway, the Oscar night feast sounded tremendous!

  18. Thought I should revisit to comment on the cobbler recipe.

    My husband thought it was the ultimate apple recipe – never make apples any other way.

    As for myself, I think the smell is devine, the taste is exquisite, but … for looks I prefer my tried-and true Tarte Tatin, which comes with wonderfully arranged apples.

    I suppose the whole cobbler topping is too untidy – reminds me of an unmade bed.

    Discussed this with my cleaning lady, who is from the Ukraine, and she made a wonderful suggestion: Next time why not make it the Ukranian way? Which, btw, is as follws: you make the dough into a ball (or sort of) and then you grate it over the apples. It’s supposed to be much neater this way.

  19. Ok, I made this chicken tonight and it was divine. I picked up 2 whole chickens from Citarella and cut it up myself. I have to make this for my parents sometime. They would love this.

  20. I have made this, per your instuction, 4 times now and it gets better everytime! I love it and now my friends and family request it. I am considering adding it to my catering menu!

  21. I have made this, per your instuction, 4 times now and it gets better everytime! I love it and now my friends and family request it. I am considering adding it to my catering menu!

  22. I made this chicken years ago in a microwave cooking class and we used an oven cooking bag for the entire prep marinating and cooking. Cutting corner of bag to drain juices for thickening. Unfortunately I have lost the original recipe. Does anyone know of it or have it? Would love to have. The chicken (whole) was the best. Thanks

  23. I make a similar chicken with 40 cloves but I use boneless breasts (not traditional, but healthier). Guests are always surprised by how mild the garlic is once it is cooked. And thanks for the tip re: boiling the garlic to make peeling the cloves easier. That is my least favorite part of this recipe, though in the end it’s worth it.

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