Serious Sunday Suppers [Milk Braised Chicken with Lemon, Sage and Garlic]

Sundays are big around these parts. 

If we’re lucky enough to find a Sunday where we’re both home for dinner, I am typically up at the crack of dawn and elbow deep in cookbooks looking for something exciting to make. I carefully unfold the corners of my beloved books, that I’ve placed that way for the very purpose of Sundays, and run my hand down the page making mental notes of ingredients I have and don’t have. I nudge Mr GL every few minutes, eyes-wide with inspiration, begging his approval of whatever dish has struck my fancy in that minute. If he agrees that the chosen recipe is ‘Sunday-worthy’, I quickly pound back my coffee, grab whatever article of clothing might be on the floor, and set off on a journey to purchase ingredients and, no doubt, a bottle of wine to go with. 

This past Sunday, in particular, I woke up in search of a good chicken recipe. Not just any chicken recipe would do, though. Because I am a holy believer that there is no better chicken than Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken, it takes a lot for me to trust in another. It’s about as close to perfect as chicken can get. Moist, crispy skinned, and, for lack of a better descriptor, distinctively chickeny. 

As I ran my fingers down the pages of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Happy Days with the Naked Chef’, I made the brave decision that I was going to do the unthinkable, and try a new chicken recipe. A whole chicken cooked in a mixture of milk, lemon zest, cinnamon, garlic and sage. One that I’ve heard praise for time and time again. It can’t hurt, right? Trying new things is good… or so they say. 

It’s difficult for me to admit, but this chicken is really good. Like, really, really good. Probably on par, though entirely different in taste and texture, than Kellers roast chicken. It’s moist, fragrant and literally bursting with flavour from the savoury lemony sage sauce. There will always be room for both of these chickens on my plate. 

If, like me, you mean serious business when it comes to Sunday Suppers, I urge you to invite this chicken to the table with you and your family. It’s rustic and stunning in appearance, exquisitely delicious, and, like all perfect Sunday dishes, goes extremely well with a big bowl of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. 

Milk Braised Chicken with Lemon Sage and Garlic
recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

Even if the idea of lemon zest curdling the milk makes you squeamish, please please try it as written before making adjustments. The curdled bits of milk turn a caramel brown and are delightful beyond words. 

1 1.5-2kg whole chicken
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup butter
Olive oil
1/2 stick cinnamon
Big handful of fresh sage leaves
Zest of 2 lemons
10 cloves of garlic, skin on
3 cups of milk 

Preheat oven to 375. 

Season your chicken all over with salt and pepper. Melt butter and a good splash of olive oil in a big pan over high heat and brown chicken on all sides until golden brown. Take care to brown it well as this will create beautiful flavour later on. Discard (or save!) the drippings. 

Once browned, add the chicken to a snug fitting pot (one with a lid). Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook in preheated oven, covered, for 1 hour basting with juices every so often. Remove lid from pot and cook for another 1/2 hour uncovered. 

When cooked through, pull the meat from bones and serve with pan juices on the side or poured over. We serve the chicken with skillet glazed carrots and, my ultimate Sunday comfort food, mashed potatoes. 

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