This famous recipe for chicken cooked in milk by Jamie Oliver is something I have wanted to make for the longest time. It’s utterly intriguing. The notion of a whole bird being browned and then slowly cooked in milk and sage until it literally falls off the bone appeals to me in every single way. It wasn’t until I was thinking about a dish I could make that would pair perfectly with the De Wetshof Estate Bon Vallon Chardonnay that I thought ‘this is the one’, and I was right.
I followed the recipe as documented on Jamie’s website vs the most recent video version where he browns the chicken in a heap of butter first then tosses this out. This seemed like a bit of a waste, so I used olive oil as he initially prescribes. The lemon zest, sage, garlic and cinnamon then get added to the butter after the browning stage and this releases the amazing aromatics, before the milk and chicken go back in.
The chicken cooks slowly for 1.5 hours in a high-sided cast iron dish to retain all the moisture. A quick Google led to a few reviews of the recipe and one convincingly claimed it was better to cook the chicken with the lid on for half the time. So this is what I did. For the second half of the roast, I flipped the bird back with the breasts exposed to go golden brown. I liked the idea of starting the cook with the breasts facing down submerged in the liquid. This is the driest part of the meat so it made sense to cook it this way.
The lemon zest causes the milk curds to split making the most interesting sauce, and these flavours paired beautifully with the unwooded Bon Vallon. Earthy, herbaceous, creamy and zesty, the wine echoed so much of what was happening in this dish.
The Bon Vallon like the other Chardonnays at De Wetshot Estate are grown in site-specific vineyards with soils rich in limestone and broken mountain rock on. The wine has a clean freshness which makes it the perfect pairing with so many dishes and it breaks through the fattiness of this dish beautifully. I was lucky enough to taste the full range at a recent chefs lunch where each wine was paired with a course and reminding me again how incredible these wines are with food.
Recipe – slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver
- 1.5 kg free-range chicken
- olive oil
- 40gm butter
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- A handful of fresh sage leaves
- Zest peeled form 2 lemons with a vegetable peeler
- 10 cloves of garlic (skin on)
- 600 ml milk
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F
- Put a generous splash of olive oil in a deep-sided cast iron lidded pot and fry the the well seasoned chicken on all sides until golden. Use long tongs to flip the bird around and allow it to balance against the sides of the pot.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Discard the oil from the pan.
- Add the butter to the pot, and once bubbling toss in the zest, garlic cloves, sage and cinnamon stick. Cook this for a couple of minutes until the aromatics are released and the sage just starts turning crispy.
- Add the milk to the pot and place the chicken back in breast side down. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
- Remove the lid, flip the bird over to breast side up and finish off cooking it until golden brown for the remaining 45 minutes.
The other recipes I have made with De Wetshof Estate Chardonnay:
*This post is proudly sponsored by De Wetshof Estate makers of some of the finest Chardonnay’s in South Africa
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