I first heard about the concept of braising meat in milk when I read the book “Cooked” by Micheal Pollan. The book is divided into elements. There is a fire chapter (about barbecue), an air chapter (about bread baking and leavening), an earth chapter (about fermentation), and a water chapter (about boiling and braising). It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. In the braising chapter he talks about an ancient Roman technique of braising pork in milk with lemon peel. The lactic acid in the milk tenderizes the meat and the lemon peel turns the milk in to a curd sauce. It sounded so bizarre yet appealing. For years I meant to make it, but I just don’t cook large cuts of pork very often, since I’m just cooking for my husband and I and responsibly sourced pork is a big splurge for us.
Then a couple of years ago, I bought a poultry farmshare. Organic free range chickens arrived with my fareshare vegetables every other week. It was fantastic. During that year I made every chicken dish I knew how to make (see the photo gallery with links at the bottom of this post) and tried many new ones as well. The most successful new recipe was from Jaime Oliver (by way of food 52). It was a version of the dish I had read about in “Cooked” but made with chicken instead of pork. In addition to the milk and lemon peel, the sauce had cinnamon, sage and whole cloves of garlic. Again, bizarre but delicious!
I never posted the because I felt I had nothing to add to this perfect concoction. Recently though I had an idea for a variation! For the last three Christmases I have made citrus seasoning salts as a gift for my friends and family. I started out making a bunch of different kinds but one concoction has floated to the top as the one that everyone most appreciated. Orange zest salt with cinnamon, saffron and Hot Smokey Spanish Paprika. Seriously, this stuff is good. Try dry brining a turkey with it or use it to season home fries. The last time I used it on home fries, my husband said “All potatoes should taste like this”. It would be amazing with lamb too. You can find directions for making the seasoning salt at this link if you are interested.
I wanted to try the milk baked chicken recipe using those same spices; Orange zest instead of lemon, the cinnamon and garlic, and saffron and hot smoked Spanish paprika instead of sage. It is excellent. Please give it a try!
MILK BAKED CHICKEN WITH ORANGE ZEST, SAFFRON, CINNAMON AND PAPRIKA
Adapted From this excellent Jaime Oliver recipe on Food 52
- One 3-pound organic chicken
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 pinches of Saffron
- 1 Tablespoon of Hot Spanish paprika
- Zest of 1 orange, peeled in thick strips with a peeler
- 10 garlic cloves, skins left on
- 2 cups whole milk
- Dry the chicken off completely with paper towels. Sprinkle the entire thing with slat and pepper and leave it uncovered in the fridge over night or at least for an hour or so. This dries the bird out so that it will brown more easily (less spatter and deeper browning).
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place the olive oil in a heavy bottomed, lidded pot that the chicken will fit into snuggly. Heat the olive oil over medium high flame until very hot, the fry the chicken turning to get an even golden color all over. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off the oil left in the pot (it’s good to fry potatoes at some later date). Leave all of the caramelized brown bits in the bottom of the pan as it adds flavor.
- Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, then cook it in the preheated oven, partially covered for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice every 20 or 30 minutes. The orange zest will split the milk, making a curd sauce.
- Serve with potatoes, yams or some other sop to soak up the juice and curds.
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES…