We’re eating a lot less meat these days, but when I saw organic free-range chicken on sale at Kroger, I knew I had to grab it. After that, I had to decide what I wanted to do with it. Very quickly, I remembered Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk recipe which I had seen hyped on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn more than once. They even called it “the best chicken I’ve ever had.” So of course I had to try it!
Overall, the recipe is a very easy one. Aside from browning the chicken in butter in a skillet (which I think you could totally skip if you’re not planning to eat the skin), the recipe is pretty hands-off. You just put all the ingredients in a dutch oven and let the chicken braise in the delicious flavors of lemon, herbs, garlic, and, strangely, milk. Many Apartment Therapy commenters seemed confused that you’d mix milk and citrus and were concerned about curdling. They were right to be concerned, as I often mix lemon juice with milk to make buttermilk in a pinch. In this recipe, it’s just lemon zest, not juice, in with the milk, so it doesn’t really curdle and separate so much as melt into the chicken, tenderizing it with the lactic acid and keeping it nice and moist during cooking. This is NOT a dried-out chicken recipe. I’m pretty sure if you just served this up to someone, they’d have no idea milk was an ingredient.
When perusing recipes online, always read the comments– you’ll probably pick up some interesting tips that may make for a better dining experience. Reading the entire Apartment Therapy post and comments rather than just Jamie’s recipe let me know that I should probably cook this with the lid on for the first hour and off for the last 30 minutes. I also got the idea to stuff the cavity of the chicken with the zested lemons and a little thyme (the herb I had on hand, though the original recipe calls for sage).
Here’s the recipe, modified to my liking.
Chicken in Milk, a la Jamie Oliver
- 1 3.5 lb. organic chicken
- 1 pint milk
- 2 lemons, zested, and lemons halved (If you can, zest the lemon with a coarser grater or use a vegetable peeler for larger strips)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 handful of sage leaves or whatever herb you have on hand. Rosemary or thyme works too.
- 10 (or more) cloves garlic, skin left on
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- OPTIONAL, only do this if you like to eat crispy chicken skin or want it to look pretty and brown, otherwise, it’s just an unnecessary step: Season chicken all over with salt and pepper and heat a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil in your dutch oven. Sear the chicken to golden brown on all sides. Remove the chicken and discard the oil/butter. Otherwise, just season chicken all over and move along.
- Stuff cavity of chicken with the halved zested lemon and some of your herbs.
- Place chicken and all other ingredients back into the dutch oven, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1.5 hours, lid on for the first hour, lid off for the last 30 minutes. Baste if you want, but I totally didn’t, and it worked out fine.
- Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. While it rests, fish out the garlic, because it’s SO YUMMY smeared on crusty bread.
- Reserve the sauce. Pour it over the chicken, dip your bread in it, pour it over the chicken and serve over rice, make mashed potatoes with it… DO SOMETHING WITH IT, as it’s so delicious.
I served my Chicken in Milk with homemade beer bread smeared with the garlic and sauteed squash and zucchini.
Save your chicken carcass and giblets to make chicken stock. It’s SO NOT HARD, and so much more flavorful and less sodium-filled than canned/cartoned stock. My method is to put the carcass and giblets with a halved onion in my crock pot and cover with water. Then I cook it on low for at least 12 hours. Fish out the big stuff, strain the rest, the freeze in Ziploc bags in 1 or 2 cup increments for future use.
Let me know if you try this recipe!