We fell in love with roasting with milk when we roasted pork and potatoes. Then I found that you can brine with milk and achieve the same moist result with meat as a water brine so it got me Googling….and I found a recipe for brining turkey in milk. Well since chicken is still a bird, I thought I would first try this recipe with chicken.
My first experience was ok, the meat was extremely salty (great to use in a salad) and the skin browned far too quickly (I was warned that milk brine causes the meat to brown quicker than usual), this nearly burnt!
Then it got me thinking. Instead of a whole chicken, I would only use Maryland (bone in, it has more flavour) and boneless breast pieces to achieve a more even roasting, plus we only really like Maryland pieces anyway (the breast was an experience for next day’s lunch).
I would also reduce the salt and sugar and reduce the heat a bit. And instead of sitting the bird on a rack, I would let it sit on top of a layer of onion, garlic and lemon soaked in chicken stock to really suck in the flavor whilst it is roasting.
I think I have managed to achieve a winner this time. This recipe does need to start the night before so you can brine the chicken over night in the fridge. And if you want to serve it with crunchy flavoursome roast potatoes, save some of the milk brine before discarding it to par boil the potatoes before roasting. The potatoes do come out a bit salty so if you don’t like it too salty then use half water half milk brine.
3 Marylands and 1 boneless breast or 4 Marylands
2 litres milk
1 lemon cut in quarters
1 onion (red or brown) cut in quarters
1 head of Garlic cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp toasted coriander or mustard seeds (leave out if you don’t have these)
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
250-300ml chicken stock
Pepper to taste
Gently roast coriander/mustard seeds (if using), star anise and cinnamon sticks over low heat. Once fragrant add into a medium pot with 1 cup of water, 1 cup of milk, salt, sugar, peppercorns and bay leaves and simmer on low to medium heat, stirring a few times until salt and sugar have melted. The milk will curdle, don’t worry too much about that.
Once salt and sugar has melted, remove from heat to cool down. Once it has cooled a bit, add to it the rest of the milk and stir well.
In a pot big enough to fit all the brine and all the meat plus onions, garlic and lemon, submerge the meat into the brine, cover and refridgerate over night. Another tip is to use a jumbo zip lock bag, stand it in a pot, squeeze all the air out so as much of the brine as possible covers the meat. I secured the zip lock bag in addition to tying it really tight with elastic band to close the space.
When ready to roast, preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Strain and wash the meat, onions, garlic and lemon. If you are roasting potatoes, use some of the milk to par boil the potatoes before roasting. You just need enough to almost cover the potatoes. This gives the potatoes an awesome flavor albeit a bit salty. If you don’t want your potatoes to be too salty then use half brine and half water.
You may also want to use half the head of garlic to roast with your potatoes. When roasting the potatoes, all you need is a bit of olive oil and pepper if you wish. If you have some sage or rosemary handy, through a few sprigs over the potatoes. Be sure to turn them over once or twice to get them crispy all over.
Line oven tray with onions, garlic and lemon. Place chicken on top, skin side up. Pour about 250-300ml of chicken stock onto tray. This provides moisture and flavour to the meat during cooking as well as creating a lovely jus to have on its own or to use to make gravy. Rub a little olive oil onto the chicken.
Roast on 180 degrees skin side up for 15-20mins until just brown. Don’t be surprised if some spots brown more than others. Turn chicken over, rub some oil over chicken and roast for another 15mins to brown this side. With this method, there is no need to baste as we are letting the chicken get some moisture on each side whilst roasting.
Then cover with foil and roast for 30minutes. Turn chicken over and roast covered for another 15minutes. If you are using breast, this is the time to take the breast out to rest, covered in foil whilst you brown the Marylands.
Uncover and roast for 10-15minutes to brown skin. You will need to watch it carefully as it browns quickly. You may also want to turn the tray around in the oven so it browns evenly. Once they are ready, take meat off the tray to rest for a few minutes before serving.
With the pan juice, if you wish to make gravy, go ahead with your usual gravy method. We have just used Gravox powder and add a bit of water as the pan juice is quite intense. Or you can just use the pan juices as it is to coat your blanched vegetables and spoon over the chicken, especially the breast (sliced diagonally into chunks to serve). This dish goes well with any kind of vegetables, even mash of all variaties. Mmmmm, you know you can do the same with chicken wings?? The difference is roast them on a rack but I would imagine I would use less heat and let them brown gently. Enjoy!!