Happy (Belated) New Year! I hope you all welcomed the new year healthy and vibrant; unlike me, who was laid up with the creeping crud (aka the horrendous cold that everyone seems to be getting). I started exhibiting symptoms on Christmas Eve and am just now starting to feel normal as we embark on the second week of January. I had the whole symptom shebang- major congestion, aches, fever, sinus pressure and coughing. For about a week my voice was so raspy that I probably could have passed for a phone sex operator. Thanks to loads of Afrin, Nyquil, Sudafed and several boxes of Puffs with Lotion, I'm almost back to my usual sassy self. I didn't cook much during my illness but I did crawl out of my death bed to make a terrific NYE meal. Mr. S and I had both kidlets so we opted for a night in at his house (too many amateurs out there guzzling champagne for my taste) and invited his brother to join us. To usher in the new year, I decided to break in my new red Dutch oven and make a Jamie Oliver recipe that I had been eyeballing for awhile- Chicken in Milk. This recipe is from his cookbook, "Happy Days With The Naked Chef." I know, I know...chicken in milk sounds slightly unappetizing, but trust me this recipe is wonderful! Combining milk with lemon, you would think you would end up with a rancid pot of curdled milk, right? Nope! In this case, the unusual combination creates a flavorful sauce with some dodgy looking but delicious cheese-like curds. It's toe-curling good! Not only that, but while it's cooking it will fill your house with heavenly aromas. I didn't change much from the original recipe- I did sub in boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they're easier to portion and serve. Additionally, I adjusted the amount of butter and the cooking time and I added a ton more garlic. The roasted butter makes a delectable savory spread if you're serving bread/rolls with your dinner. Seriously, this is the perfect comfort food meal when you are feeling less than stellar- quick to assemble and cook and aces in the flavor department.
Braised Chicken in Milk (adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Season your chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper (on both sides). In a large Dutch oven (I used a 6 quart one), heat up your butter. Fry your chicken in the butter until it gets nice and golden. Place done thighs on a separate dish.
3. Discard the leftover butter but leave the sticky, brown bits at the bottom of the pot. The brown bits will infuse additional flavor into your sauce.
4. Add your cinnamon stick, sage, lemon zest, garlic cloves and milk to the pot. (Tip: don't use a microplane for your zest in this recipe- it'll get gunky as it cooks. Use a veggie peeler, peel large strips of lemon peel off... -no pith-... and then slice them up into thin sticks.)
Give the mixture a good stir. Then return your chicken thighs to the pot.
5. Place the pot in the oven (with the lid on), cook for 30 minutes. Give the chicken thighs a good baste.
6. Remove the lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until done.
7. When done, remove pot from oven. The chicken thighs will be so tender they will almost fall apart.
8. Fish out the garlic cloves. Using your fingers, push the roasted garlic innards out of the skins and place in a bowl. Ditch the cinnamon stick.
9. Drizzle the chicken with the remaining sauce and serve with your favorite side. I made shaved Brussels sprouts with bacon, some rice and included a few rosemary/Parmesan rolls (which we slathered with the warm roasted garlic) to sop up all that liquid gold (sauce).
This dish would also go great with mashed potatoes or wilted greens.
* (If the texture of the chicken drippings/milk sauce oogs you out, give it a quick whirl with an immersion blender over medium heat, it'll give it a smoother consistency).
* If you are one of those people who absolutely abhor sage, you can sub in thyme and rosemary. The final taste will (obviously) be slightly different.