A most unusual creature: Chicken in Milk

I’d ask you to stop me if you’ve heard this one before–except that if you were paying attention to the internet in the month of November, odds are you have already heard about this recipe. I am speaking, of course, of Jamie Oliver’s infamous Chicken In Milk. The Recipe That Shouldn’t Work and Yet Does! The Recipe That Was All Over The Intarwebs for a Few Minutes There! The Recipe That Transfixed Us All With Its Fundamental Oddness! Seriously, I couldn’t look away. It was like the food blogger’s answer to the cast of Jersey Shore–kind of inexplicable, but undeniably fascinating.

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Naturally, I HAD to try it.

When you talk about it in the abstract, it sounds as though it is, literally, a recipe for disaster. Milk and lemon zest? Really? I mean, Jamie. Really. You of all people should know what happens when those two collide. Infinite sadness is what happens. Infinite sadness and an ocean of curdled milk.

Except! The sadness never quite makes it to the table. Contrary to all good sense, this chicken-in-milk-business works. Yes, the milk curdles, but if you strain out the curds and other debris, you end up with a ridiculously delicious (spicy, herby, garlicky) sauce of the sort that will require you to shoo your guests out of the kitchen because they will try to nab it straight from the pan. No, seriously.

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You will also end up with a bird so luscious and tender, you won’t know what hit you. I’m not sure if this is the nature of the recipe itself, or if it’s a result of the cooking tip I snagged from TheKitchn (start it covered, and then remove the lid after about a half hour), but it really is kind of astonishing. I’m talking bones-actually-falling-out-of-the-meat tender.

I made it a few days before my father went in for his surgery; unsurprisingly, we wanted something warming and comforting, something that would easily stretch to feed the four of us and the two wonderful friends who came to dinner. Though it was not labor-intensive enough to quell my neuroses, it did manage to fill the kitchen with comfort, cheer, and a wickedly delicious smell.

Oh, and–Dad came through with flying colors. Thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers.

Chicken in Milk
(adapted from Jamie Oliver)

1×3-4lb chicken
1 pint milk
2-3 sticks cinnamon
2 small sprigs of sage
8-10 cloves garlic, smashed and unpeeled
zest of 2 lemons
salt
pepper
1/4c olive oil
2 tsp buter

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan or dutch oven (with a well-fitting lid)–one which would fit the chicken snugly–melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat; season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and then fry it in the butter/oil mix, turning regularly, until the skin is uniformly brown. Remove from heat and then drain off the butter and oil from the bottom of the pot.
  3. Once drained, add the milk, cinnamon, lemon zest, sage, and garlic to the pot with the chicken. Place in the oven and cook covered for 1/2 hour; remove the lid, and then cook for another hour.
In chicken, poultry

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