Chicken Adobo and 40 Cloves of Garlic

Whoever said, “Too much of a good thing is never good at all,” has probably never been to a wedding with an open bar, has not found a go-to all-you-can-eat sushi joint, nor has ever had Chicken and 40 Cloves of Garlic. Unlimited alcohol, unlimited raw fish, and a chicken that seemingly threw itself on a garlic grenade are all good things.

Although the first two items in that list may be subjective (you know, if you’re a teetotaling fish-o-phobe), there is no arguing the third. In today’s post-BAMmage culinary landscape, who doesn’t like a shizzload of garlic thrown in their food–especially garlic that’s been sauteed in chicken grease and butter, and then slowly braised until buttery, sweet, and soft?

Such is the case with Chicken and 40 Cloves of Garlic–a dish of Provencal origins that features a whole chicken roasted along with, yup, you guessed it, 40 whole cloves of garlic(!).

Why 40 cloves of garlic? I have no clue. Perhaps it’s because “Chicken and 40 Cloves” sounds a bit more impressive than say, “Chicken and 3 to 4 Heads of Garlic” (which might make for an awesome band name). Who knows?

But what I do know is that there is perhaps no other chicken dish that takes such great advantage of the more mild and sweet qualities of garlic. Well, except of course, Chicken Adobo. So why not combine the two dishes?

And that’s what I did. Chicken Adobo with 40 Cloves of Garlic.

But please don’t mistake this dish as a regular Chicken Adobo with some extra garlic thrown in. With thyme, white wine, olive oil and plenty of butter, this hybrid version has many of the hallmarks from the original French dish, but with a certain Filipino je ne sais quoi. Of course, that certain something is none other than the magical Adobo potion of vinegar, soy, black pepper, bay leaf, and yes, garlic–40 whole cloves of ’em that become sweet and yielding after a saute and braise.



Chicken Adobo and 40 Cloves of Garlic

The marinade in this dish not only provides that extra Filipino flavor, but it also gives a deeper more beautiful brown color to the chicken after it is cooked. The same flavors in the marinade are echoed in the final sauce as well since more vinegar and soy are added to the white wine. And while 40 cloves of garlic may seem like overkill, they become sweet and buttery–providing a wonderful balance to the sauce and chicken.

Serves 4-6

For the Marinade:
1 cup white Filipino cane vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, cut into eight pieces (wings, legs, thighs, breasts)

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons softened butter (divided)
40 cloves whole peeled garlic, about 3-4 heads of garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white Filipino cane vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
(Optional) Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

To marinate the chicken, combine the 1 cup of vinegar with the 1/2 cup of soy sauce and the teaspoon of black pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish, then pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight, flipping the chicken over once to ensure even marination.

The next day, remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and set aside. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the softened butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces in the hot oil until nicely golden on all sides, 5-7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a large platter and set aside.

Add all of the garlic cloves to the pot and saute, stirring often, just until the garlic is golden, 3-5 minutes. Do not burn the garlic!!! Pour the wine into the pot, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce the wine by half, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining vinegar and soy, then add the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Return the browned chicken pieces back to the pot, along with any accumulated juices from the platter. It’s OK if the chicken pieces overlap each other. Using a spoon, baste the chicken with the liquid in the pot. Cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, turning and basting the chicken pieces often, about 15-20 minutes.

Using your fingers, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter with the 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl to form a paste. Set aside.

Transfer the chicken from the pot and to a large serving platter. Increase the heat to medium, and whisk in about a third of the butter and flour mixture into the sauce. Continue to simmer the sauce, adding a only a small amount of the butter and flour mixture at a time, until the sauce is as thick as you’d like. You may not have to use all of the butter and flour mixture.

Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce and garlic over the chicken and garnish with parsley, if using. Serve over white rice, or serve with a crusty baguette.

  • Danny B May 18, 2012, 2:25 pm

    Great recipe, I’ll give it a try. Just a tip for marinating the chicken, put it into a gallon size ziplock bag to get it coated evenly with no flipping.. Easy cleanup too!

  • Row May 18, 2012, 6:52 pm

    Bam and dayum! I haven’t made adobo in a while. Will have to try this version out. Thanks! :)

  • caninecologne May 18, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Ooh, I like the twist with this (the white wine and thyme. I normally put one whole head of garlic in my adobo anyways, so 40 cloves doesn’t seem that much more! this is something my husband would love. can’t wait to make this recipe!

  • murrayanddvine May 19, 2012, 2:30 am

    That is far more teasing adobo! So much garlic surely give it more taste.

  • Krizia May 19, 2012, 8:16 am

    An adobo recipe that would make Julia Child proud.

  • Michelle May 23, 2012, 8:55 pm

    Oh sweet muthaofmercy. I bet one burp after a plate of this kills vampires within 10 mile radius. 😀
    I usually give my garlic a whack to peel them. Is this method okay for this dish or should I just ante up the money to buy pre-peeled garlic?

  • Julie May 24, 2012, 10:17 am

    I haven’t made adobo in such a long time–this is the kick in the pants I needed!

  • BurntLumpia May 28, 2012, 11:08 am

    Great tip Danny, thanks.
    Let me know what you think, Row.
    Your hubby will love it caninecologne. Hope all is well.
    Thanks murray.
    Hey there Krizia!
    I used the same method, Michelle. But I made sure not to totally squash the garlic. I just gave them enough of a whack to get the paper off. But pre-peeled garlic would be easier.
    Thanks julie. Glad I could give you that kick:)

  • Debs @ The Spanish Wok June 2, 2012, 12:13 am

    Oh yes, my kinda food, soy & garlic; nothing better, thanks.
    New follower too.

  • Joy June 5, 2012, 3:29 pm

    40! It looks great. I wish i wasnt too lazy to chop up garlic.

  • Kristinae June 7, 2012, 8:09 pm

    Maybe 40 comes from the bible? When someone dies, after the 40th day, their soul goes to heaven and they usually have some kind of wake. Just a thought. Thanks for the recipe.

  • joey June 15, 2012, 1:00 am

    Wow! A fantastic version of adobo!!! One of the things I love about adobo is how you can modify it in so many ways :)

  • Sandy August 12, 2012, 7:16 am

    Wowza! Reads like a delicious merging of flavors. I haven’t made an adobo I was happy with (for some reason other people’s cooking just tastes better)! Perhaps this will be the trick, it sounds dang good!

  • Samantha July 30, 2013, 1:08 pm

    That chicken looks amazing, I have to try to make this sometime. I need more Filipino friends so they can make me food 😉

  • Mia August 30, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Oh wow, 40 cloves of garlic! I have to try it and see how the adobo turns out!

  • RecipeTV March 9, 2017, 1:26 am

    Wow, this looks delicious! We also have a good list of Filipino classics over at that you guys can check out. Whip ’em out at your kitchen and let us know what you think. Happy cooking, foodies!


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