Chicken in Milk

By Ann Fulton

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Even as an adult, I anticipate my Christmas stocking every year.  My husband always succeeds in finding a handful of gifts that are the perfect balance between practical and perplexing.

Early in our marriage, the gifts were mostly useful toiletries: a 500-count box of Q-tips, shampoo, and toothpaste.  Over the years, however, he has left the bathroom in favor of the kitchen, with most welcome results.

A few of the gifts never change.  I bank on English breakfast tea in bulk, a bottle of olive oil, two bags of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms (I’ve mentioned my sweet tooth in the past!), and peppercorns for our pepper mill.

Over the years, I have also received jumbo jars of pepperoncini (his favorite) and food items ranging from bags of fried fava beans and yellow lentils to a tin of Virginia peanuts and a box of ice cream cones (yes…that sweet tooth again).

There is no need for these gifts to actually fit in the stocking, by the way.  They are typically stacked in a neat pile on the floor below.

So why am I writing about Christmas stockings when we will soon be thinking about Easter baskets?  Along with the variety of edibles, there are usually a couple of magazines.  I rarely buy magazines for myself, so this is always a treat.  This year, a recipe from British chef Jamie Oliver popped out from one of the pages.

“Chicken in Milk” was odd yet intriguing, and I cooked it right away.  The aroma was amazing, and the chicken ranked with the most tender I’ve ever consumed.  I made the recipe several more times, dialing back the tanginess of the sauce and simplifying the preparation.  Though my family loved this tender chicken the first time, with each revision they adored it a little more.

 

The pairing may sound odd, but this simple, mostly hands-off method produces the most tender, flavorful chicken imaginable.

The pairing may sound odd, but this simple, mostly hands-off method produces the most tender, flavorful chicken imaginable.

Chicken in Milk
Yield: 4-5 servings
Each time I prepare this recipe, I increase the amount of garlic over the original amount, listed below. The whole cloves soften and mellow as they cook, and everyone requests more of these creamy nuggets.
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or legs (I use 1½ pounds of each)
  • ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to lightly coat the pan)
  • ½ cinnamon stick or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A few fresh thyme sprigs (may substitute sage)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice and the zest of one lemon
  • 10 garlic cloves, skin removed but left whole (may use more if you are a garlic fan)
  • 2 cups 2% milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375℉. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or another heavy pot or casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Place the chicken, skin-side down, in the pot and allow it to cook without moving until the skin is nicely browned, about 10 minutes. (This step will render much of the fat, brown the skin, and is best done in two batches so as not to crowd the pan. I don’t bother to brown the side with little to no skin. See notes for a timesaving option.) Remove the browned chicken to a plate. Discard the excess oil, leaving the crusty bits on the bottom. This will add good flavor later.
  2. Put the chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook, covered, in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. (I don’t baste or even peek, although I have taken the chicken out after 1 hour and 20 minutes and it was fine. I have also cooked early and reheated.) The lemon juice will sort of curdle the milk, making a thick sauce, which is creamy and absolutely delicious.
  3. Serve with crusty bread or over rice, noodles, or potatoes, as desired, to soak up the delicious sauce. A side of peas or green vegetable of choice completes the meal.
Notes
  • To see what would happen if I omitted the browning step–which tends to splatter and be a bit messy–I skipped it recently and was pleasantly surprised. While the color of the skin is not golden brown and beautiful, the resulting chicken is every bit as delicious as it is when browned first. This meal is so incredibly easy when the browning stage is skipped…I wouldn’t hesitate to try it this way and compare for yourself.
  • If you don’t typically use 2% milk, which I recommend over non-fat milk in this recipe, look for the 16-ounce bottles to eliminate waste. If your grocery store doesn’t carry this size, many convenience stores do.
Tried this recipe?Post a picture on instagram and we will repost it! Mention @fountainavenuekitchen or tag #fountainavenuekitchen!
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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Comments

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Patt, Garlic is the second to last ingredient on the list, and then in step two, the recipe notes that the chicken goes “back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients.” That includes the garlic. The peeled cloves need not be sautéed first and will mellow and soften over the time in the oven.

      Reply
  1. carol a zutski

    jamies original recipe called for lemon zest only, but I have done it with and without , if you add the juice, it will curdle immediately, if you add just the zest, the curds come after it roasts.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Thank you for the mention, Carol. We tend to think of curdling as a bad thing, but in this recipe I quite like it!

      Reply
  2. Linda

    I tried this tonight and the chicken was *very* tender, nearly fell off the bone – thank you for the recipe! I finished the skin in an air fryer, which gives wonderfully crispy skin and no stovetop splatter to clean afterwards.

    I have to admit the curdled milk & sauce looked unappetizing when we pulled it out of the oven… the sauce was the consistency and taste of very oily chicken broth. The family didn’t eat much of it. Is there a step I missed / is the broth supposed to have chunks and bits of curd floating in it? I had to pull the dish out of the oven early at 1hr15m so wondering if that changed anything. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Linda, I’m glad you enjoyed the tender chicken and love your idea of finishing the skin in the air fryer. As for the sauce, it is thin but flavorful and I mention in the recipe that some curdling occurs naturally when the acidic lemon mixes with the milk. I give it a good stir and that helps. Also, as the fat renders from the skin, it will mix with the sauce. Browning the chicken first and draining some of the rendered fat would decrease that…and even trimming your chicken pieces a bit. I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

      Reply
  3. Andy

    I tried this recipe and it was pretty good and easy to make. Seemed to lack seasoning though. Maybe needs more salt. Also leaned towards a lemon taste so wondering if you adjust the lemon juice it would impact the taste more. Is the juice supposed to be white or like a melted butter look?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Andy, You can sort of see the difference in the sauce as it goes from the whiter look in the photo before baking, just after the addition of the milk, and the brothier look when done. You can absolute add more salt and/or lemon juice to taste, as the intensity of these flavors is definitely subject to personal preference. I’m glad you gave the recipe a go and appreciate your comment!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      You could use skinless thighs (I’d probably skip the browning step), although they will cook more quickly if they are also boneless. I might cut back on the lemon juice by a tablespoon since you won’t have the fat from the skin to fully balance the tartness – you can always add it later. If you have boneless, skinless breasts, they would cook more quickly yet, but you could certainly give them a try, checking early for doneness. If you experiment with the recipe, I’d love to know how you make out!

      Reply
  4. Judy Nichols

    Haven’t made this for awhile but we had it last night and I made noodles for the family…well…even though I wasn’t supposed to eat the noodles I couldn’t resist because the sauce is incredible and the chicken just falls apart! Another incredible recipe and perfect left over for this snowy day ahead!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Judy, Noodles would be such a great pairing, and I agree – leftovers will be perfect for the snowy weather that’s predicted. I’m delighted you returned to this…and your comment is making me hungry for it!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Anne, It is covered - with a tight-fitting lid as mentioned in the first paragraph. Thank you for your inquiry though, as I did provide additional clarification later in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      For 10 pounds of chicken, you’d want to triple the recipe…and use a big pot! I’d also be sure to check the doneness with a quick-read thermometer, as the cooking time may need to be extended with a larger batch. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  5. Matt

    First time I made it it came out so good. The second time my sauce came out really thin. Not sure what I did wrong the second time.. maybe to much milk?

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Matt, Too much milk is a possibility. My only other thought centers around the chicken. Some brands inject a saltwater solution into their chicken before packaging to make them juicier and plumper. I’m wondering if this liquid could have cooked out and thinned the sauce. Just a thought…

      Reply
  6. Angela

    Hi! Just getting ready to put this recipe together for dinner, and I don’t have any fresh sage leaves. My options are: poultry seasoning, dried rosemary, or dried thyme. Which would be best as a substitute here?
    Soooooo looking forward to eating this scrumptious-sounding dish later! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I literally just sat down to catch up on emails and your message popped up! I think any of those options would work well. I usually use thyme (sage is mentioned as the option), so I think I’d go ahead and use that. I hope you enjoy the meal as much as we do!

      Reply
  7. Zaakira

    Dear Ann,
    I hope my message finds you very well. I saw this Chicken in Milk recipe of Jamie Olivers and I was a little apprehensive to try it… however the excited comments on your site have me sold to give this a shot! I do have a question for you please… My husband is a lover of food that boasts heat and spice. How (if at all possible) can i add abit of heat to this dish? Thank you in advance.
    Z

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I think some cayenne pepper would be an easy way to add some heat, Zaakira. It would be fun to experiment with a hot curry paste or harissa, too.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Gina,
      Because of the extended cook time, I would recommend using bone-in chicken but think it would still be very good if you removed the skin.

      Reply
  8. Michelle

    Very tender! I added some stone ground mustard to the milk as well as a few different spices. I don’t have a Dutch oven so had to improvise.

    Reply
  9. Krissie

    Chicken in Milk Recipe

    Thank you so much for this great recipe. I usually ‘file’ recipes, but this one I made the same day as you offered it on your website! I followed the recipe fairly closely however I used 2 cups of coconut milk and 1/4 cup of chicken broth to thin it out, instead of the 2 cups of 2% milk, due to a milk intolerance and I used only chicken thighs. I deboned and froze a few dinner portions. I also kept some out to make chicken soup, adding both 16:1 ratio of chicken broth and coconut milk. The soup was also yummy. Thanks again, I shall make this recipe often and share it with my culinary friends!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Love that you made this and enjoyed. Your coconut milk substitution sounds delightful, as does the soup. Thanks for your great feedback, Krissie!

      Reply
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  12. Viki Yaeger

    Ann- this looks yummy and I am just starting to prepare it. I realized after I bought the ingredients that I do not have a Dutch Oven- so have used a stainless Cuisinart pot (big one, like for corn). Its been in the oven at 375 for 10 minutes but is nowhere near brown, nor is it spattering. I am sticking it back in there- a bit and will likely fall back to your note saying its not really a mandatory step. The question is- do I want to invest in a Dutch Oven? Is there a substitute for one? I have a slow cooker. I am not a regular cook, so am always on the fence if I should acquire more kitchen ware or if I can improvise with what I have. Happy to get one if it will add to my ability to cook more/fast!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      You should be just fine, Viki. If you read the recipe notes, the splattering happens in the messy stovetop step that you can avoid by not browning first. In this case, the skin will be lighter in color, but don’t worry. It will still taste delicious. If something still doesn’t make sense, just let me know. As for the Dutch oven, you should be just fine without one. Although they are nice for certain things, usually a pot with a tight-fitting lid works as a fine substitute.

      Reply