You know how it is sometimes - you see that much recommended recipe, it's hailed by everyone who's ever tried it, it looks simple, the photos look smashing, the ingredients are easily procured, all seems perfect and there's no reason not to just plunge in and do it. And you do.
With me the problem is I don't. I prevaricate, I hesitate, I make excuses, I avoid it for reasons even I don't understand. All this is mainly because deep inside somewhere I just don't believe. Now I can't really decide if it's the recipe I lack confidence in or in me and my abilities in the kitchen. It's silly after all these years of turning out a pretty successful string of meals, some quite ordinary and everyday, some special, and some actually spectacular. And yet there is that kernel of doubt that stays stubbornly lodged right there and I give in, and procrastinate again.
This time it was Jamie Oliver's recipe for Chicken in Milk. A recipe so simple even someone not very experienced in the kitchen can execute it with success. But I hesitated. It has milk. The milk WILL curdle. There's only sage to flavour it. Oh and a stick of cinnamon. How can it possibly be good? As you can see, the excuses piled up as usual.
I think it is my love for roast chicken that finally made me take this particular plunge. Roasting chicken has to be one of the easiest ways to put together a fabulous meal with minimal effort. And this recipe was even easier than my usual minimalist recipes that involve seasoning the bird, stuffing butter under the skin, stuffing the cavity with garlic and fresh herbs, putting the bird on a bed of chopped veggies and potatoes, and letting the magic happen in the oven thereafter. There were no veggies to chop. No need to peel the garlic even. This was hard to resist!
So here's chicken in milk with some adjustments as usual.
Roast Chicken in Milk with Orange Zest
1 whole chicken with the skin
a handful of fresh sage leaves
a handful of garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup milk
1 stick cinnamon
olive oil or butter
Season the chicken inside and out with salt and fresh ground pepper.
In a pan heat the olive oil or butter. Sear the chicken nicely till it's a lovely dark gold all over. Do this a little patiently.
Now transfer the chicken to a deep baking dish. Pour in the milk. Scatter the sage leaves, drop in the cinnamon stick, and then sprinkle the orange zest all over the chicken and around it.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a hot 180C oven for around 40 minutes.
Remove the foil carefully. There will be some steam inside so be really careful. Steam burns hurt like hell and are deep burns. Cut the foil open if you prefer to let the steam escape first.
Cook the chicken for another 30 minutes in the oven. Reduce the heat to 150C. Slide in a sharp knife near the thigh joint to see if the bird is cooked through. If the juices run clear it's done.
We had this with toasted sliced bread. We needed nothing else!
Jamie's original recipe asks for lemon zest. I realised I didn't have any lemons at home but we did have oranges so I used the zest of one full orange. I also used cinnamon and not cassia bark. I don't think they are interchangeable and I wouldn't substitute one for the other.
Judging from the hubby's response to this version of roast chicken I can safely say this one's going to feature on my dinner menu quite often!