Chicken with Sage and Milk

I’m often asked what’s my favourite dinner? A difficult question to answer - especially for someone with so many favourite dishes. After some thought I usually plum for “duck”. Well, what’s not to love about duck? Anyway, I shouldn’t get started on duck, that’s another story, and this post is about chicken.

A free range, organic roast chicken is a thing of great beauty; probably as fabulous as duck, when simply roasted until golden brown, seasoned with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. And finished off with a delicious aromatic jus created by steeping thyme sprigs in the juices. If there are any leftovers, I usually hide them in the back of the fridge, because I also love this roast chicken cold, and I’m not good at sharing it.

I do like to prepare it other ways of course, and the recipe below is a favourite of mine that works any time of the year. In winter, it is pure comfort food, taken to the table in my traditional orange Le Creuset casserole. In Spring, I use fresh garlic, including the stem, which provides a little textural contrast with the soft curds left at the end of the cooking time. Whatever time of year you choose to cook it, please buy a chicken that has been looked after, and is free range and organic. Yes, I know that they are more expensive, but the taste is worth it. Oh, I serve this with steamed brown or white rice, and some wilted greens. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

Chicken with Sage and Milk

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180C and find a snug pot for a 1.5kg chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown, turning it, in about 50gm butter and a little olive oil until golden. Put the chicken on a plate, discard oil but keep any sticky bits. Return chicken to the pot, add 1 cinnamon stick, leaves from 1 bunch of fresh sage, the zest of one lemon, (I use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin in big strips), 10 unpeeled cloves of garlic and 570ml milk. Bring to a simmer and put in the oven,( do not cover), cooking for 1.5 hours, basting occasionally with the milky cooking juices. At the end of the cooking time there will be milky curds and juices in the bottom of the pot, spoon these gorgeous curds over the chicken when serving. No need to carve the chicken, just pull it apart with a fork and spoon. Leftovers are great too.

This recipe varies slightly from Jamie Oliver's "Chicken cooked in milk" recipe.