When you read the recipe, you’ll be dubious. There is no denying this is an odd combination of ingredients. But I promise you, this is seriously delicious. It is one of the best roast chickens I have ever had in my life. Ever.
To say that this is one of the best roast chickens I have ever had in my life is a big call, I know. That’s how good this is.
When you read the recipe, you’ll probably be as dubious as I was. “Lemon and milk? Surely that will curdle. And a cinnamon stick? This just sounds weird.”
I then took to Google out of curiosity to see if others had tried it. To my surprise, there were many and they raved about it! Quite a few even declared this to be the best chicken they’ve ever had. I can’t say that with my hand on my heart (it’s up against Southern Fried Chicken, Korean Chicken, Karaage….to name a few!), however, there is no doubt that this is one of the best chickens I have ever had. Possibly the best roast chicken I have ever had.
And it is so much easier than traditional roast chicken. Virtually foolproof. Insanely juicy, flavour infused chicken every single time.
What It Tastes Like
The chicken is baked for 1.5 hours in the braising liquid so it is really tender. Not “fall apart” tender, but it’s not a roast for carving. It’s more for tearing bits off.
Because it is baked uncovered for most of the time, the skin comes out lovely and crispy on top. The braising liquid, which reduces down to a sauce, is truly incredible. It infuses into the chicken and reduces down into what I call “liquid gold”. There’s a hint of cinnamon fragrance, garlic, subtle lemon freshness and the muskiness of sage, all mixed through the chicken juice. The garlic is a treat in itself. Cooked until soft, I pop them straight out the skin straight into my mouth. If there are any leftover, I spread it onto toast – best treat ever!
I was convinced the milk and lemon would end up as a curdled mess, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The milk dissolves into little bits of curd which might look a bit odd at first glance but when you take a bite, it’s almost like little tiny bits of bocconcini or buffalo mozarrella cheese. I wanted more of it!
In conclusion, I’m pretty certain that this is going to be my “go to” recipe when I have whole chickens to cook. It is ridiculously easy to make, with the hardest part being the browning of the chicken (I’ve provided a few tips that I picked up when I was doing it).
So without further ado, here’s the recipe!
- 3 - 3.5 lb / 1.5 - 1.8 kg whole chicken
- 2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- Black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ stick cinnamon
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves
- 2 lemons, zest only (avoid grating the pith which is bitter)
- 10 cloves of garlic, whole, skin on
- 2¼ cups milk (I used low fat)
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
- Wash the chicken under water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle over the salt and 5 grinds of black pepper and pat all over the chicken, concentrating on the top and sides.
- Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. (Note 1)
- Brown the chicken all over as best you can. I find the easiest way to do this (and minimising skin tearing) is with tongs stuck in the rear of the chicken and a wooden spoon to lift and leverage the chicken. Tilt the chicken as required to brown as much of the skin as you can. (Note 2)
- If you can manage it (or if you have a helper), pour the excess fat out of the pot with the chicken still in it. If you can't, remove the chicken onto a plate, then drain the fat.
- Add the remaining ingredients into the pot (return the chicken to the pot if you removed it).
- Bake covered for 40 minutes, then bake uncovered for 50 minutes (1.5 hrs in total).
- Let stand for 5 minutes or so before removing the chicken from the pot onto a serving plate. Serve the sauce on the side. I prefer not to strain it because I want the bits of curd and garlic on my chicken, as well as bits of sage.
2. The browning of the chicken can be a bit difficult if you are using a very snug pot. But it is a key step for this recipe because browning = flavour + crispy skin and also renders the fat. The fat that isn't rendered out in this step ends up in the sauce and might be too fatty for your taste if you don't brown the chicken enough.
The nutrition is for 6 people and has been adjusted to reflect that 1/4 cup of the chicken fat is rendered out and poured off while the chicken is browned. It also assumes that all the sauce is used which is probably not the case so the calories is slightly higher than it should be.
I should be honest and tell you that though recipes always say that a whole chicken will typically serve 6 people, in my household it only serves 4 + plenty of scraps for my dog Dozer. 🙂