Diana Henry’s chicken pot-roasted in milk, bay and nutmeg

Diana Henry’s chicken pot-roasted in milk, bay and nutmeg
  • Serves icon Serves 6
  • Time icon Hands-on time 15 min, oven time 1 hour 30 min

Diana Henry’s chicken is cooked in milk which allows the bird to stay succulent in this pot roast recipe.


  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.8kg whole British free-range chicken
  • 350ml whole milk
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Good grating nutmeg
  • Finely grated zest 2 unwaxed lemons


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/ gas 4. On the hob, heat the butter and olive oil in a lidded ovenproof pan that can hold the chicken. Season the bird with salt and pepper, tie the legs together if you want, then add to the pan and brown all over, using 2 big forks or wooden spoons to turn the chicken. Avoid piercing the skin and season as you go. Pour off the fat. (You can keep it to fry potatoes.)
  2. Add the milk, garlic, bay leaves, nutmeg and lemon zest. Just before it boils, remove the pan from the heat. Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, removing the lid halfway through cooking. Baste occasionally, spooning the milk over the bird.
  3. At the end of the cooking time the bird should be succulent and golden, and the juices copious and slightly curdled. Squash the garlic cloves with the back of a fork so they break down and flavour the juices. Taste: you may want to add an extra grating of nutmeg.
  4. Spoon the juices over the chicken and serve whichever starch you choose for a side dish (I love it with orzo or rice pilaf). The vegetable you choose will depend on the time of year. In winter it’s good with roast carrots, in summer simple roast tomatoes and a bitter leaf salad.

Recipe from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand.

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  1. Diana says: “I’ve never been keen on the Italian dish of pork cooked in milk, but I was convinced to try this chicken version by Faith Durand, who runs thekitchn.com in the States. She heard about it from Jamie Oliver and made some adjustments, and I have made my own. Faith thinks it’s the best chicken recipe in the world and my children would be inclined to agree. It is a great dish: the chicken stays succulent and becomes sweet, imbued with and enriched by the flavourings in the milk. The nutmeg-y milk makes it a bit like eating roast chicken with bread sauce (without the hassle). One of the most comforting dishes you could wish for.”


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