April 14, 2009

chicken in a pot with all sorts of goodies

By now, you're well familiar with my ubiquitous red pot. It is my very favorite kitchen accomplice, ever at my hand to bring my next hopeful recipe to life. Really, my red pot needs a name. She (oh yes, it's a she) really does all the work, and puts up with my constant burning of various fats or vegetables (cabbage comes to mind). She shares in my victory and as payment gets a sunny spot on the butcher block, followed by fanfare, a little parade of me and Fin, marching toward her, reaching down to her, and carrying her decidedly into the kitchen for our next adventure.

Last week, she accompanied me on yet another timid journey down the whole chicken path. We were ready for this one. Chicken in milk, a la Jamie Oliver, had been touted on The Kitchn all day and I had to try my hand at it. So I came home with a whole chicken, and some sage, and was happy to know that I did in fact have all the other ingredients in my pantry. This has been part of my kitchen dream for some time: as one friend puts it, I'd like to be able to whip up a delicious, healthful meal straight out of my pantry, no grocery trip required. I think I'm there.

This adventure with a whole chicken was bounds better than my first; I made no frantic phone call to my father about how to remove the neck, and had very little squeamish reaction to pulling out the innards--so me and the red pot were starting dinner out on the right foot.

I decided NOT to improvise at all; my first attempt at cooking a whole chicken took hours and wasn't wowing. I followed this to the T, implementing the tip from The Kitchn to leave the lid on for one hour, and remove it for the last 30 minutes of cooking, and am ever grateful for it.

Nobody likes to see pictures of raw chicken, but I have to share this one because of the way it made me feel. Browning this guy in the pot made me think of it as a little animal curling up for a nap. I very nearly scrapped the entire recipe because at that moment I wanted very badly to become a vegetarian. Yet, red pot insisted that I persist, as she was making the butter and the olive oil and the chicken fat sizzle and crack and pop and sound so undeniably crispy and delicious.

From Jamie Oliver's site:
Chicken in milk

• 1 3½lb organic chicken
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 oz of butter
• olive oil
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1 good handful of fresh sage, leaves picked
• zest of 2 lemons
• 10 cloves of garlic, skin left on
• 2 cups milk

serves 4
A slightly odd, but really fantastic combination that must be tried.

Preheat the oven to 375°F, 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.


I served our chicken with sauteed spinach from my mom's garden and organic, Texas-grown white rice. Let's just say it knocked the socks off of me, and Ryan, and it was just as delicious the next day for leftovers. I turned my leftovers into chicken salad, and it's never tasted so good.

Red pot and I are looking forward to our next kitchen adventure. Maybe soon I'll have a great name for her. Any suggestions?