The Best Roast Chicken Ever aka Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk
I write down potential recipes for this site in a Word document labeled “Badass Blog Ideas,” and over the years, the extensive list has come to resemble my closet. Basically, it’s an overstuffed hoarder’s paradise, and half of the things will never see the light of day because I don’t actually like them, or they’ve gone out of style. Sad, but true.
In an effort to do some fall organizing, I decided to streamline the aforementioned document and make it slightly more manageable. I started by dividing the recipes into helpful categories: “Moneymakers” for foolproof recipes that need to be shared stat, “No-Calorie Sunday” for my fat kid ideas, “Scary” for stuff that upsets me like soufflés and canning, “Reader Suggestions” (yes, I hear you), and “Experiments” for weird things with the potential for delicious upside (or disgusting failure).
Because I tend to focus on the Moneymaker recipes, I figured maybe it was time I took a shot at one of the Experiments. Enter: Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk.
I first read about this chicken a year or so ago. I remember looking at the ingredient list and thinking, “But Jamie, lemon and milk will curdle! Gross.” Then I saw the comments. People were going absolutely batshit over how it was the best chicken they’d ever made and saying that the “split sauce” was magical. I was both confused and intrigued, so I opened up Badass Blog Ideas and typed “Milk Chicken.”
Needless to say, every time I perused the document for inspiration, I quickly dismissed “Milk Chicken.” (Why make such sad sounding poultry when I could make a quinoa bake or fancy jello shots?) But Jamie’s chicken has been enjoying a little bit of an online renaissance recently. In fact, I’ve seen multiple articles on it this week alone, leading me to believe that maybe Milk Chicken deserved a real shot.
It was actually Faith’s post preaching the wonders of Jamie’s recipe that motivated me to take the plunge yesterday. On top of insanely tender chicken, she promised that my apartment would smell heavenly while it cooked, which was ultimately what sold me. (I’m pretty sure all my neighbors think I’m an unemployed shut-in, so I like to make the hallway smell amazing to prove that I’m doing something productive while I blast Jason Derulo all day.) Excited, I whipped out my Dutch oven, bought a chicken and got to work…
I’ve been trying to keep the expletives to a minimum recently, but I feel the need to go uncensored here because this is the best fucking chicken ever.
Seriously. Life-changing, magical, glorious, mind-blowing, otherworldly, and all of my other favorite adjectives can’t even come close to capturing the epic deliciousness of the blessed Milk Chicken. It’s the most tender, juicy, flavor-infused roast chicken (technically braised, but whatever) that I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. And if I had more upper body strength, I would have hoisted the chicken pot over my head and done a victory lap around my block to get the word out. (It’s probably best that I didn’t because the only articulate sentence I could form for a full fifteen minutes after trying it was, “It’s so fucking MOIST!!!” Sorry.)
And the sauce! Dear God, the sauce. I know it looks kind of weird and unappetizing, but be not afraid, friends. The milk splits into curds that are suspended in an unreal lemon-sage chicken juice, and you just spoon all of the goodness over the meat. If you like, you can squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins and whisk them into the sauce for extra flava. So dank.
Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of this Milk Chicken is that it only requires a few basic ingredients and about 15 minutes of hands-on time. All you have to do is brown the chicken in a large pot, add some lemon zest, sage, a cinnamon stick, a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves and milk, and then pop the whole shebang in the oven for an hour and a half. BOOM, you’re done. Fist bump, slow clap, etc.
Jamie’s recipe is perfection, but I want to quickly touch on one change that I made. Mr. Oliver instructs you to roast the chicken uncovered, but I took Faith’s advice and kept everything covered for most of the cooking time, removing the lid for just the last 15 minutes. I urge you to follow my lead here. This method leaves you with a lot more sauce, while simultaneously helping the chicken absorb maximum flavor from all the goodness in the pot. (The skin is browned beforehand, so coloring the bird is a non-issue.)
When it comes to serving your fabulous chicken, I recommend keeping things basic and letting the bird shine. I went with roasted asparagus and quinoa (the quinoa absorbed the excess sauce, which was beyond awesome), but other whole grains would be equally delightful, as would mashed or roasted potatoes, and pretty much any vegetable you can think of. You could even add a little extra milk to the pot and cook some sliced potatoes or veggies with the chicken. Genius.
Now that I’ve experienced the wonders of Milk Chicken, I’m freakishly pumped to experiment with other creative flavor combinations. I’m thinking maybe orange and cardamom or coconut milk and lemongrass. A milky saffron situation could also be bomb. OOOH, or chipotle and lime? So many possibilities! Milk Chicken 4 LYFE.
Make the Milk Chicken. Love the Milk Chicken. Keep me posted on your success.
The Best Roast Chicken Ever aka Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk: (Serves 4)
1 (3-pound) whole roasting chicken
Coarse black pepper
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 lemons, zested
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves garlic, skin left on
1 handful fresh sage leaves
2 cups whole milk
Preparing your Chicken in Milk:
-Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
-Rinse your chicken well (you want that bird really clean) and pat it dry with paper towels. Season generously with kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Make sure you season the cavity too.
-Melt the butter in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When bubbling slightly add the chicken and brown well on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes. Please be very careful about dangerous butter spatter, capiche?
-When brown, remove the chicken to a plate and pour the butter left into the pot into a small bowl. (You can discard the butter if you like, or you could also use it for vegetables, potatoes, etc. The latter is a good idea.)
-Quarter one of the zested lemons and pop it into the chicken’s cavity. Return the chicken to the pot and add the lemon zest, cinnamon stick, garlic, sage and milk. (If you want crispy skin, place the chicken in the pot breast-side up. If you don’t care about the skin, and want even more insanely juicy breast meat, put the chicken breast-side down.)
-Once the cooking time is up, your chicken will be insanely tender and surrounded by a split “sauce” of juices and curds (it may look scary, but it’s insanely delicious I promise). If you like, you can squeeze the garlic cloves from their skin and whisk them into the sauce, or you can spread them on bread, add them to mashed potatoes, etc. To serve, pull the meat from the bones and spoon lots of the “sauce” over top.
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