Chicken in Milk

Anyway, this recipe is a bit of a weird one – a whole chicken baked in milk with lemon zest, garlic and sage… Courtesy of Jamie Oliver (again) from Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I’m starting to think that Mr. Oliver is the king of the whole chicken – I thought it was Nigella that was always roasting a bird…

Here’s the costing.

Tesco Organic chicken : £7.27
Half pack of butter (!) : 47p
Bunch sage : 68p
Half a cinnamon stick: from cupboard
2 lemons (unwaxed): 62p
One bulb garlic : 30p
1 pint milk : 45p

Grand total : £9.79.

Week Six : Organic chicken

There’s the chook – another organic one. Mr. Oliver – do you have shares in an organic chicken farm…? I never can tell the difference. Will I be lynched for saying that? It seems like a foodie crime.

Week Six : Ingredients
This recipe makes me weep – look at that giant block of butter at the back there. Guess what you do with that beauty? Use it for frying and then…. throw it away. Oh no, I don’t think so! I used some of it to cook some pink fir apple potatoes, and very nice they were too. Throw it away, psh.

Right, so the first thing you need to do is turn these:

 Week Six : Lemons

into this…

 Week Six : Lemon zest

Looking at the picture for Jamie’s version of this, his lemon zest is more like lemon peel. I did try to do it like that, but my knives defeated me.

 Week Six : Aromatics

So these are the flavourings of your chicken in milk. Cinnamon, garlic and lemon zest – and of course, your sage.

Get your butter, melt it in a pan, and then brown the chicken off. There’s a lot of butter and the chicken is very big and delicate, so it’s slightly easier said than done to move the chicken around in the pan without breaking its skin. I ended up using two wooden spoons like a pair of forceps.

 Week Six : Browned chicken

Did it in the end though – and doesn’t it look delicious? DO NOT EAT, though – this is slightly underdone…

Chuck away the butter (sob sob) and then return the chicken to the pan with the half a cinnamon stick, the sage, the zest of two lemons, the 10 cloves of unskinned garlic and the milk.

 Week Six : Chicken in milk

Looks appetising, but kinda weird.

Now, you roast and baste, roast and baste. Roast and baste for an hour and a half, which is the standard cooking time for roasting a 1.5kg bird (see, I’ve learnt something!). If you’ve diligently basted and roasted, this is what you end up with:

 Week Six : Chicken in Milk

Looks pretty exotic, I think! The idea is that the lemon zest slightly curdles the milk and you end up with a split lemony milk sauce which you eat along with the chicken, some mashed potatoes and some wilted greens. We ate ours with roasted pink fir apple potatoes and some spinach.

The milk sauce didn’t split that much. It was very unusual, to say the least – pretty much what you would expect when you infuse garlic, lemon and sage in milk. The cinnamon didn’t show up so much – I blame it on the fact that cinnamon sticks really vary in how long they are. Is that a foodie joke: how long is a cinnamon stick?

 Week Six : Chicken in Milk side on

The scores:

M gave it 7.5. He said it was ‘all right’. This is his standard answer to things when he doesn’t know what I want him to say.

I gave it 7. It was nice, very unusual, but I can’t see the point of doing it other than it was exotic and weird. Maybe the lemon didn’t really work so well for me, because the sauce was just a little odd. Nice, but the kind of thing you’re not totally sure about and stop eating halfway through. Maybe a bit rich…

On the other hand, it did provide me with a pint of curdy lemony milk and chicken stock which I used in a potato soup, and some creamy chicken flesh that went really nicely in a risotto…

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

This recipe is one I’ve cooked before, but I wanted to cook it again, partly because it’s good and partly because I wanted to blog about it. I can’t remember the first time I heard about it, but I was definitely in my teens. I also have a copy of French chef Camille le Foll’s book Les Classiques de Camille (available in English as well) with a recipe for it. So I was totally aghast when I was watching an old episode of Nigel Slater’s Real Food (complete with a very young looking Nigella Lawson) with him and a bunch of snobby foodies (one of them was Alastair Little) talking about the dish as though it was a totally bizarre urban legend. You can actually watch the episode here, and they start talking about ‘the myth’ around 11 minutes on. Alastair Little said he never heard of it, so proceeded to make up a version. I’d love to be so smug as to think that just because I’d never heard of a recipe, it must be made up. Maybe one day.

Needless to say, I think Alastair Little is a ponce. Very good at cooking, but every time I see him on TV, I wish I hadn’t.

Anyway, I had heard of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, and I’ve cooked it, and it is nice. So I thought I’d cook it again. Here’s the costing.

Wallace Red Freedom Endorsed chicken : £4.73
Fresh parsley : £1.19
Bunch sage : from garden
Thyme : £1.19
Rosemary : from garden
Bay leaf : from garden
150ml olive oil : store cupboard
3 bulbs garlic : 89p

Grand total : £8.00 exactly. Spooky. And, shameful, because I grow all these herbs in my garden, but they are sort of dwarf, mini versions I dare not pick any leaves from, in case they die…

Week Five : Chicken

So here’s the chicken – no specific type needed, so I thought I’d get this Freedom Endorsed chicken from Sainsbury’s which was on special offer. Sorted.

Next step was to separate out the cloves of garlic – no peeling needed, thank goodness. If you ever wondered what 40 cloves of garlic looked like, this is for you.

Week Five : 40 cloves of garlic

Surprisingly few, right?

Week Five : Macro garlic

But still, so good looking. Ah, garlic…

Week Five : Seasonings

Anything that starts with garlic, herbs and olive oil has to turn out good, right?

Chop a sprig of parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary and sprinkle it over the chicken together with salt and pepper, and cover with the olive oil. A lot of olive oil. Then, pop the bay leaf inside the chicken, and scatter the garlic around the edges.

Week Five : Chicken ready to go

Then you roast it for an hour and half, either covered with foil or a lid.

Week Five : Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

Once you take it out, the garlic should be delicious and soft, and you can squeeze it out of its skin… and eat it! Yum. Or spread it on the delicious chicken meat.

Week Five : Garlic on bread

Serve it with crusty bread and a green salad. I also made roasted cherry tomatoes from the garden, sprinkled with a little sugar, dried thyme, salt and olive oil.

Herby tomatoes

So, what’s the verdict? Was it too garlicy…?

No such thing.

The scores.

M gave it 8. He likes garlic.

I gave it 8.5. I like garlic too. And, it’s a quick and easy recipe, unusual and very delicious! If you like garlic… you will love this.

Drunken Chicken

The idea of drunken chicken sounded kinda good to me… Boiled chicken, marinated in Chinese rice wine, then cut into pieces and eaten with plain rice.

Well, it wasn’t.

Blog warning: graphic, unpretty photos of grey chicken meat below… I know you all come here for my amazing kick-ass photography skills, and I do admit I should probably get some kind of award for it, but even I, with my amazing, elite ability (it’s like a superpower) cannot make a boiled chicken look good. I’d imagine it’s totally beyond the realms of physical possibility, to be honest, because if I can’t do it… well. You know.

No photo of the chook in its packet this time – it looks exactly the same as the chicken in the last week’s recipe, so here’s the costing:

Tesco’s chicken : £3.33
Ginger : 21p
Spring onions : 50p
Rice wine : technically free because it was already in the cupboard, but for 300mls goodness knows

Grand total : £4.04

The method for this is fairly simple – but, it does take several days to actually make this dish.

First of all, you stuff some ginger and spring onions up old chooky’s bum, and place it in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, skim, and cook for 15 minutes.

Here’s the scary part. When the 15 minutes are done, you have to put a lid on the pan and leave it, off the heat, for three to four hours. The remaining heat in the water will continue to cook the chicken until it’s peachily perfect and deliciously tender. Dare I do it? Dare I risk salmonella on a cheap £3.33 chicken?

Yes, of course!

Week Four: Drunken Chicken skin-on

It went surprisingly well, actually. Here’s the cooked chook with its skin still on – you have to remove it for this recipe, but the naked corpse was a bit too gruesome for a closeup… As you can see, the drumsticks are falling away from the body, which is a pretty good indication that this is cooked through properly. I also pierced the flesh to make sure no pink liquid ran out – it didn’t. We’re good to go!

Now, all that cooking liquid left over isn’t going to be wasted. That’s perfectly good chicken stock. So, we save that and reserve 300ml for our chicken.

Week Four: Drunken Chicken jointed

Next step was removing the skin and jointing the chicken. I’ve never jointed a whole chicken before so I got really nervous and started looking it up in books and looking at YouTube videos to see how it was done. Of course, I forgot that this chicken is already cooked, so it’s much, much easier to joint it. Several times during this I simply used my hands. Yum!

Now, this is where I cheated somewhat, so I can only speculate as to how delicious this would have been if I had simply followed the instructions. Instead of salting my chicken now and leaving overnight, I had already done it. That’s right! I rebelled and salted the whole cooked chicken, leaving in the fridge overnight so I could take better pictures of the jointed bird. Now, I know you are overwhelmed by my stunning piece of photography above and can see how it was totally worth doing this, but you didn’t have to eat the result.

So, skipping the salting bit, because I’d already done it, it’s time to add the marinade to the chicken. It’s now day two, and once we add this marinade, the chicken has to sit for two to three days.

Week Four: Drunken Chicken marinade

The marinade is 300ml of rice wine and 300ml of chicken stock. You can add 2tbsp of brandy if you want. I didn’t.

Now, there’s nothing to this but to leave everything in the fridge, and turn it every so often, dreaming of the delicious chicken you will no doubt be eating – after all, the more complicated and time consuming the dish, the better the results, right?

Nope. After three days sitting in the fridge, this chicken pretty much tastes like you would expect it to taste. Pretty alcoholic. Maybe you need fancier rice wine, maybe you need to be a bit of an alcoholic yourself, but I wasn’t impressed.

Week Four: Drunken Chicken meal

I salvaged this somewhat by serving it with that amazing ginger and spring onion dipping sauce I told you about here, but in all honesty, it was fairly overpowering.

So, the scores.

M gave it 2.5. After being coaxed with the dipping sauce, he gave it 4. Anything below a 5 we had already agreed is in ‘don’t bother making it again’ territory. So, this is the last time in my life I will ever make this dish. I’m not sad.

I gave it 4. It wasn’t really really bad, but it in no way paid off the planning involved in a dish that takes at least four days to prepare.

However, it did give us some lovely chicken stock and PLENTY of leftover chicken…