The first time I made chicken in milk, I was in college. My roommate was constantly introducing me to amazing food, and one weekend she decided to try this particular chicken. I started off a little skeptical: Cooking an entire bird in a pot of milk with lemon and whole cloves of garlic? It sounded strange to me, but once I ate the final product I was more than just a believer.
After making this recipe, I never wanted to make a whole chicken any other way.
Chicken in milk will impress your friends, girlfriends, parents, and dinner guests with its decadent flavors and surprising tenderness. I even made it for Christmas dinner last year.
When you roast whole chickens, you’re fighting a war on two fronts: You want the skin to turn perfectly browned and crispy, but you also don’t want to dry out the white meat, because some people actually like white meat for some reason. Usually you have to settle for one or the other. (Dark meat lovers are rarely disappointed, because dark meat is the only good meat.)
Somehow, Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk perfectly satisfies both needs.
This dish is a one-pot wonder, but only if you have the right pot. We usually do ours in a large, nonstick oven-safe skillet—uncovered—but it’s perfect for a dutch oven. You start off by browning the chicken, whole, over the stovetop, then adding cloves of garlic, big strips of lemon peel, sage, a stick of cinnamon, and of course, milk. Then it’s into the oven, with some occasional basting.
It’s just a few ingredients, but they become totally transformed over that hour and a half. As the sage wilts and lemon peels soften, the citrus breaks apart the milk into a creamy, powerful sauce. The garlic cloves melt with the heat—you can actually eat them whole, skin included. By basting, you not only make sure that the chicken skin doesn’t burn, but also infuse it with flavor. If it’s properly salted, that flavor will sink down into the meat.
There’s no bad part of this chicken. Even if you’re like me and just pick out the thighs and legs, the white meat is perfectly tender for chicken salad—or even adding into some ramen.
Take it from us, Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk is absolutely worth the minimal time and minimal effort.