I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver. I started following him when I was living in England in the early 2000’s. His approach to cooking was so different than any cooking shows out there at the time. Just the name, The Naked Chef, put a smile on my face and I was curious about who this guy was. He cooked with abandon, minimum fuss and he made it all look like great fun. Some of my favorite episodes were when he cooked for his girlfriend’s “hen” party and when he cooked for his mates in the early morning when they came in from the pubs. He also did a series “Jamie at Home” where he is outside with a wood burning oven and takes advantage of his incredible English garden.
But Jamie also has a very serious side. He was a leader in improving the school lunches in England to healthy and wholesome food – a goal which ultimately led to a broader campaign to improve school lunches called Feed Me Better. He was voted the ‘Most Inspiring Political Figure’ for the ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign that worked toward cutting out junk food in the diets of British schoolchildren. The British Government pledged to spend 280 million on school lunches.
Jamie’s Kitchen’, a documentary series, followed Jamie as he attempts to train a group of fifteen disadvantaged youth. (I use the word “attempts because he was not successful with all the kids, many who were from very troubled backgrounds.) The students who did complete the course were offered jobs at Oliver’s restaurant ‘Fifteen’.
A few years ago, I came across Jamie’s Chicken in Milk recipe and I was enticed by it because it was so completely unusual. It called for roasting a chicken in a big pot with a pint of milk, a lot of lemon zest, a cinnamon stick, fresh sage leaves and unpeeled garlic cloves. Milk, cinnamon, and chicken were three things I wouldn’t ever think to combine. The lemon zest splits the milk and creates a curdled creamy pan sauce that I have heard described as liquid lemon gold. I’ve made this many times and besides being delicious, it is also fast and easy to prepare.
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- ½ stick cinnamon
- 1 good handful fresh sage , leaves picked
- 2 lemons , zest of
- 10 cloves garlic, skin left on
- 565 ml / 1 pint milk
- 1/5 kg / 3 lb chicken
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5, and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over, and fry it in 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 left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramel 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 onto your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.
I use skinless chicken and it works well too.
Jamie leaves the lid off the pot when he cooks it. I like to leave the lid on for part of the cooking and remove for the last half.
If you are confused about the metric system, this should help.
1/5 teaspoon = 1 milliliter
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
1 fluid oz. = 30 ml
3.4 fluid oz. = 100 ml
1 cup = 240 ml
34 fluid oz. = 1 liter
4.2 cups = 1 liter
2.1 pints = 1 liter
1.06 quarts = 1 liter
.26 gallon = 1 liter
.035 ounce = 1 gram
3.5 ounces = 100 grams
1.10 pounds = 500 grams
2.205 pounds = 1 kilogram
35 oz. = 1 kilogram