Judy’s Garlic Chicken

Mom’s Garlic Chicken was my all-time favorite dish for dinner.  Remember, the Banana-Chocolate Chip loaf was my favorite dessert. Are you starting to discover a pattern here? Of course I had to start my culinary expedition cooking meals that were my highlights.  That softens the blow a little bit, right?  I don’t consider this cheating but rather, like getting that long summer reading list from school and only starting with the books of interest.  If I could purchase the Cliff Notes for all of Mom’s recipes I would, but, since that’s not a possibility, I’m starting with my notables.

Whenever I was about to go on break from college Mom would call me the night before my arrival and ask the perfunctory question, “what do you want for dinner when you get home?” She’d always chuckle because she really knew the answer.  I guess it was our little game. When I’d arrive, usually weary from the flight and seemingly endless car ride from the airport, the house would be wafting with the sweetest garlicky aroma.  And, somehow, Mom always timed the confluence of my arrival with dinner perfectly.

There, in the center of our very average-sized dinner table, lay the largest Pyrex dish ever seen (to me at least).  It would be overflowing with at least 10 plump, moist, boned chicken breasts basting in a bubbly brown garlic marinade, coated with the crispiest breadcrumbs.  I still chuckle at the memory of getting my hands slapped once or twice for trying to sneak eat a piece before the meal.  To foil me, Mom would have the chicken arranged in perfect rows in the dish so she could see if any piece was manipulated.   I alone could eat at least two full breasts at any sitting and, there were rarely any leftovers.

My big splurge for this cooking adventure:  a Pyrex dish. I was adamant that I had to replicate the same dish Mom used.  After an unsuccessful search upstairs in the Zabar’s kitchen section, I desperately begged an unsuspecting employee to go back to the stock room to check their inventory and dig out the last one they had in stock!

A dish is not just a dish.

In hindsight, I realize at Zabar’s I was in crisis mode. This rash behavior further supports my theory that novice cooks are petrified to take risks, or to deviate from a plan i.e recipe.  Would a different size baking dish really make any difference in the outcome?  If it wasn’t a Pyrex dish and merely a name brand dish, would that matter?  Obviously, in moment of panic, everything mattered.   However, as fearful as I was, I did manage to make an executive decision to cook the chicken breasts without the bone (contrary to Mom’s suggestion).   I guess I was anticipating a strong approval rating and therefor, needed to approach the meal presentation through the lens of its consumers – my kids.  There’s no way they would eat meat on a bone, plain and simple.

While in prep mode, I scanned the recipe (see, I’m learning) and smiled as if I discovered a long lost secret. The recipe calls for stick and a half of butter!  Aha. How could this not taste great with so much butter?  While I do consider myself to be health conscious, I pledged allegiance to myself, my mom and this cooking blog that I would stay authentic to all the ingredients. I was also thrilled at another realization!  This was the first time in my life I had to travel back to a food store to purchase an ingredient that had been used up on another recipe (aka – marinade for the flank steak).  I’ve never bought any ingredient with the intent to cook, ever.  I’m starting to have purpose.

Within minutes, that stick and a half of butter, the Worcestershire sauce, and the garlic bulbs were boiling together over top the meat in the oven.

Chicken baking in my oven. Imagine that crunch!

Simultaneously, those sweet familiar aromatic smells transported me back to my house, 20 years ago.  And, like in Mom’s kitchen, the kids just happened to rush in from school right when I was taking the finished masterpiece out from the oven.

“It smells good in here,” Alex sang out as he dropped his backpack and coat in the middle of the kitchen floor.

“Is this meal going to be over-cooked like the flank steak?” he asked, unabashed.

So much for my devoted beta-testers….

Finished product. Can't you just smell that garlic?


  1. Totally agree new cooks like to follow recipes to the tee, what’s my excuse? Still don’t love to improvise. You can adhere to Judy, I’m thinking of a GF adaptation of this one. Sounds great (and looks great too impressed).

  2. I like making this with boneless breasts of chicken and I cut the largest ones in half and them pound them to flatten them somewhat. Also, they appear larger and you get double the amount of chicken. Additionally, I prefer to use italian seasoned panko flakes rather than breadcrumbs. Lastly, the next day you can skim off the coagulated butter and it still tastes great.

    • I see you added panko flakes in the recipe, you can also use breadcrumbs (that’s what mom used)

  3. Rebecca shared your blog with me and I love it! It brought tears to my eyes and added ingredients to my grocery list. We’re having cheeseburger pie for dinner tomorrow! What a wonderful tribute to your mom Shari! Blake (Mules)

  4. Michelle says:

    I made this last night to rave reviews! I used bone-in chicken (breasts, thighs, drumsticks). I only used 1/2 stick of butter, chicken broth (it’s all I had and I don’t know the difference with broth – let’s just say I wouldn’t win the contest), and panko breadcrumbs. I mixed the panko with some flour but the ingredients didn’t list flour (flour was just listed in preparation). Everyone said the dinner was a “keeper” – what we call a new recipe that I should make again! We have a ton of sauce leftover which we’ll use again soon…


  1. […] find myself wracking my head against a wall.  If I use chicken stock instead of broth for the Judy’s Garlic Chicken, will that really make a difference?  If I don’t use baking powder in Judy’s Brownies, is […]

  2. […] that the sprouts are a nice compliment to any meat, especially Judy’s Garlic Chicken! A first: both racks in my oven being used at the same […]

  3. […] to at least try what they’ve helped create.  A new family chicken dish favorite, besides Judy’s Garlic Chicken  (which takes many more ingredients and a much longer prep time), is a nice and easy Lemon-Honey […]

  4. […] to at least try what they’ve helped create.  A new family chicken dish favorite, besides Judy’s Garlic Chicken  (which takes many more ingredients and a much longer prep time), is a nice and easy Lemon-Honey […]

  5. […] I chose to bake Rebeka’s Crash Hot Potatoes recipe for  different version of the celebrated bakes potato.  I love that these are just a touch crunchy and are bite-sized too! I didn’t add any of the suggested toppings like bacon bits or cheese.  For the first time around, I wanted to keep them plain and simple.  My 8-year old son loved squashing the perfectly-boiled new potatoes and then basting them ever-so-gently with some olive oil. They were the perfect side dish to Mom’s Garlic Chicken recipe. […]

Speak Your Mind