This is your formal notice that all chickens cooked by any method other than this are hereby rendered unacceptable. It is, by far, the easiest, tastiest, tenderist, moistest, cry-over-your-plate-ist bird ever to cross the threshold of my lips.
I happened upon Jamie Oliver’s “Chicken in Milk” recipe whilst desperately searching for ways to make chicken dinners less boring, and curiosity couldn’t keep me away. We are dieting pretty hard in our house these days, but found ourselves relying too heavily on fattier cuts of pork and beef because we both find chicken rather… snoozeworthy. So I was on the hunt for chick-spiration. But cooking chicken in milk? This was a new concept, and I was intrigued. I’ve heard many an italian wax rhapsodic over the merits of milk-braised pork, so it should follow that, if that works – this must be something special too! Plus, I think we can all agree that Jamie Oliver knows his shit. (Hi Jamie! I love you and your food revolution SO MUCH!)
And it’s true. It is an absurdly special dish. Paul is just as blasé about birds as I am, but his tastebuds were riveted by this preparation. Ding ding ding, we’ve found our solution to the boring bird! WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER! So here I am, sharing my adaptation.
Not only is this recipe dead-simple, but it is extremely modification-friendly, which means that it won’t get boring. I’ve done it 3 different ways now, all of which were damned delicious. I even made a version using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk for all you lactose-intolerant folk! See below for more ideas, after the recipe. And if you don’t use much sauce at all (and really, it’s moist enough on it’s own) you’ll save the fat/calories of whatever milk you used to cook it with!
Milk-roasted chicken with rosemary, shallot, and lemon cream sauce
1 whole roasting chicken (ours was about 4 pounds.) (Get a good quality chicken. It really makes a difference. Ours is from the farmer’s market.)
1 Tablespoon butter and/or olive oil
2 cups milk (I prefer St. Benoit Organic Whole Jersey Cow’s Milk – it will change you forever, it’s so good.)
2 springs fresh rosemary
The zest of 1 lemon (I used meyer lemon in this one)
5-7 cloves garlic, skin on
2 medium/large shallots, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Rinse your chicken and dry very well. Salt him liberally, and let him rest, uncovered, in the fridge overnight or as long as you can before cooking. If you don’t have time, just salt and pepper him. Also, it’s ideal, but not imperative, if you can let him come to room temperature before cooking. There’s not right or wrong – just do what you can with the time you have!
Pre-heat your oven to 325° F.
Heat a dutch oven or roasting pan on the stovetop until good and hot. Melt your butter and/or oil in the bottom. Lay the chicken in, breast side down, and let brown for a few minutes. Then flip him, and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate when you’re done, and pour the excess oil out of the pan.
Return the chicken to the pan, breast-side down. Add all the other ingredients to the pan and place it, uncovered, in the oven for 60-90 minutes, (depending on the size) or until the internal temp is around 150 and the juices run clear. Baste it every 20 minutes or so with the liquids in the pan, if you can.
Remove the chicken and cover loosely with foil to let it reabsorb the juices it expressed while cooking, and it will continue to cook for a bit to come to full temperature. Let it rest for about 20 minutes if you can stand waiting through the smell that’s now teasing you to the brink of drooling.
Then carve that sucker up, and drizzle with the pan drippings if you like! Enjoy!
Try Jamie’s Original Recipe, with sage, lemon and cinnamon. It is ridiculously tasty. Very savory and holiday-nostalgic.
Try a Thai-inspired turn, featuring coconut milk, like this one from The Kitchn.
Go totally thanksgiving on that beast, swapping in fresh thyme, sage, dried cranberries, orange zest, a bit of nutmeg, and some sweet potato chunks.
Get curry in a hurry with coconut milk, yellow curry, some chili peppers, and cinnamon. Toss in carrot and potato chunks, and you’ve got a meal in a pot!
Use your imagination! Swap in and out whatever herb combinations suit your fancy. Explore new citrus zests and spice blends. Adapt it to suit your tastes and have fun experimenting!
My next incarnation will be an attempt at greek-style chicken, relying on oregano, lemon, and kalamata olives to spice it up. I’m also going to sub in all-white meat chicken breasts from our new local butcher shop, to make it even leaner. I’ll report back with my findings! And if you try one that turns out famously, please share your invention with me, too! We’ve got to stick together in the quest to keep chicken from boring our faces off, no?