Friends, I like to believe that I keep an open mind about things. Okay, maybe I can’t get past child beauty queens (or their parents) and I cringe when I think of the bacon explosion, but for the most part, I’m pretty open minded. But I have to be honest and tell you that when I first read about Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk, I was more than a little suspicious. I love chicken, but the idea of cooking it in milk gave me the willies (even though I know that milk is a natural meat tenderizer). When I actually read about the recipe (on The Kitchn — one of those blogs I just can’t get enough of), and found out that it includes not only milk but also lemons, my mind could barely comprehend the weirdness.
But the reviewer on The Kitchn liked this chicken. In fact, she loved this chicken. She even went so far as to call it “The Ultimate Chicken.” And as a woman on a quest to find chicken recipes that are awesome, and not dry or flavorless, I knew I needed to give this recipe a shot.
You start with a whole chicken, which is still a pretty new beast to me (you mean chickens don’t come in breasts and thighs in the wild?). Get all the giblets out, and loosen ‘er up by giving her a little chicken massage (this tip came from my French girlfriends — perhaps they were pulling my leg). Make sure all the pin feathers are nixed, then give her a good rinse. Season her with plenty of sea salt and pepper, then pop her into a Dutch oven and fry her in the olive oil and stick of butter you’ve heated up. This will require to you hold her on her little chicken sides for a minute or two — I use a wooden spoon stuck in her (forgive me) fanny to accomplish this feat.
Take her out, pour the excess butter and olive oil (Nate and I always leave a Tablespoon or two of sauce in there for good measure) down the sink with lots of water, and then pop her back into the Dutch oven with the lemon zest, milk, sage, cinnamon stick, and garlic cloves. Even though the recipe doesn’t specifically call for it, I follow The Kitchn blogger’s method of cooking this chicken — that is to say, I put the lid on the Dutch oven for the first hour, then take it off for the last half hour.
What you’re left with is a truly awesome bird. The meat is so tender that it falls off the bone, and it is nicely flavored with the garlic and sage (the cinnamon’s there as a smoky undertone). Nate and I serve the chicken in bowls with plenty of its sauce for dipping. And if you have sauce leftover, no one will judge you if you sop it up with some French bread and gobble it down. Because you won’t want to waste any part of this delicious meal.