Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yet another reason to love Jamie Oliver...

Dear Boo,

As if I needed another reason.

My love for the Naked Chef was born many years ago, back when the Food Network actually showed cooking shows, hosted by real chefs, using real ingredients (no tablescapes or canned frosting). I loved Jaime because he was young, cute, with a delightful accent and slightly manic energy. And his food was delicious. In fact, as I'm sure you'll remember, his pea, spinach and feta salad was one of the first recipes I discovered on my own that was so enchanting it entered our regular family rotation and convinced me that some day I might actually have a kitchen "repetoire".

Then he went ahead and did this show where he took a group of at risk, underprivileged youth, and trained them in the culinary arts and put them to work running their own (highly successful) restaurant, all in as tasteful and non-exploitative a manner as possible, given the medium of reality television. Oh, and then he also got the british government to completely revamp the school lunch program to make it healthier and more environmental. And did a documentary on the disappearance of British pig farmers. And managed to publish 10 books, have a couple of kids with ridiculously delightful hippy dippy names like "Poppy Honey", "Daisy Boo", and "Petal Blossom Rainbow", stayed married to his sweetheart, and lives a generally charmed, if somewhat ADD-addled life.

But none of this compares to this chicken.

Sure, the food politics, charity work, endless idealism, hilarious baby names and plucky spirit is nice. But nothing beats a moist braised whole chicken with burnished gold skin, sweet caramelized garlic, lemony zing and hints of earthy sage and warm cinnamon. Did I mention the creamy sauce? Oh. There's creamy sauce too.

Also it's easy. And cheap.
As another celebrity chef crush would say, "How great is that?"

I first came across this recipe here, and could not stop thinking about making it for a good few weeks after, based on the photos and the claim that this would beat out all other roast chicken recipes in my arsenal. While that's still debatable, it was kind of phenomenal. And definitely unique. When I finally got around to making it, that is.
My lovely mis en place. The ingredients were just so pleasing to the eye, I couldn't resist. And I might have been a little ridiculously excited to cook this. Especially in my beauteous blue dutch oven.
Basically, all you do is brown the chicken in some butter in a big pot, then add the garlic cloves, sage leaves and a whole mound of lemon zest (I'd say the zesting is the most labor-intensive part, just to give you an idea of how simple this is). Pour a whole mess of milk on top, slap the lid on (not exactly part of the recipe, but all the online chatter advocated leaving it covered in the oven for the first hour or so) and stick it in the oven.

What comes out is fall off the bone delicious, perfumed perfectly, with a sauce to match. With mashed potatoes and spinach it was perfect.

Here's the recipe*: a good one to tuck away for when you need some home-cooking on the road. Minimal shopping, minimal cost, and all the house perfuming comfort you could ask for.


The Mouse

*I would definitely recommend cooking the chicken with the lid on for the first hour, then removing it for the last 30 minutes or so. This sort of braises the chicken instead of just roasting it, and keeps the meat super moist. mmm.


Anonymous said...

Absolute YUM...ahh, chicken - the food of the goddesses.

Max said...

What a great tribute to that adorable man! Maybe time to make a film Jamie and Julia - that way we get to have Meryl again! or maybe Jamie & the Mouse and the Boo Too

I can't wait to make this -

CT Gramma said...

I don't see the cinnamon stick in your photo, but it's in the recipe. Did you cook the chicken without it?

The Mouse said...

The cinnamon stick is sort of camouflaged at the bottom of that pre-cooking photo. It probably sank to the bottom during cooking, but it's definitely in there, and definitely a crucial flavor component! I liked the warm it gave the dish--a nice contrast to the citrus.

The Boo said...

ok I made this in west virginia last nght and I can attest that it is EASY and a crowd pleaser.

小巨蛋 said...


Christine said...

I have never done a whole chicken before (can you believe it?) This looks very doable and delicious.

CT Gramma said...

Have been meaning to make this since you posted it. Finally got around to it last night. Anything easy is up my alley. I added zest from a Meyer lemon I had on hand, cut it in two, and put it in the cavity. Was unsure about the sage since I've never really cooked with that, but it was a nice surprise, more delicate than I expected. Also I only had peeled garlic, and it was fine. This passed the meat-and-potatoes-husband test with flying colors. Great recipe! I'll make it again.

The Mouse said...

Great to hear! I get the feeling it's the kind of recipe that adjusts well to substitutions or whatever you have on hand. So glad you liked it!