roast chicken in milk

i love roast chicken but am always interested to find different ways to cook it. some regularly made favourites include roast chicken that has been lightly smeared with harissa paste, a mix of spices or sundried tomato pesto. i’ve also made version where thai curry paste is used and the meat basted with coconut milk during the cooking process.

a particular favourite of mine is to cut very thin slices of lemon and slide these between the skin and meat of the chicken so that a lemony flavour imbues the meat – this is particularly good if you want to serve the chicken with some sort of greek pilaf or bean side dish. the roast chicken with preserved lemon that i made last month had similar flavours.

i tend to resist the more outlandish recipes which often appear online in a flurry of blog posts –chicken cooked on a can being one such example. however, a slightly odd-sounding dish did catch my eye – jamie oliver’s roast chicken in milk. this is not a beautiful dish – the milk curdles as it cooks – but it is a delicious one that results in very tender meat. it’s also a very easy way to try something a bit different without pushing too hard at the boundaries of tradition.

jamie oliver’s chicken in milk (serves 4)

a 1.5kg organic chicken

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g butter

olive oil

½ a cinnamon stick

1 good handful of fresh sage, leaves picked

zest of 2 lemons

10 cloves of garlic, skin left on

1 pint milk

preheat the oven to 190°c/375°f/gas 5, and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. season it generously all over, and fry it in the butter and a little olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even colour all over, until golden. remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil and butter left in the pot. this will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramelly flavour later on.

put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1½ hours. baste with the cooking juice when you remember. the lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic.

to serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.