All the ingredients in the name of this recipe called out to me: Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass. The rest of the ingredients listed had my mouth watering: cilantro, garlic, green onions, butter, leafy greens, dried anise and a bit of stick cinnamon. The author doesn’t list it under a particular type of cuisine, but it has a Thai feel to it. My husband prefers boneless, skinless chicken breasts, so I rarely get to roast an entire chicken. I had no idea what I was missing!
Our piece about Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk got me thinking about other possibilities for cooking a whole chicken in milk — what could be easier than filling a pot with liquid and spices, turning on the heat, and walking away until what’s left is the most succulent fall-off-the-bone bird?
I used a 3 3/4 pound roasting chicken and seasoned it with salt and pepper overnight. A large plastic zipper bag was perfect for the task. I removed it 30 minutes before I wanted to start cooking so it could come up to room temperature.
My local grocery store doesn’t stock fresh lemongrass stalks, so I use Gourmet Garden’s lemongrass paste. It’s convenient to store in my freezer since lemongrass isn’t something I use regularly. I always prefer fresh produce if I can find it, but I’ve found this is a good substitute. I used a 3-inch long piece straight from the tube (about the length of my index finger).
Lastly, I used baby spinach leaves as the greens for a few reasons. First, they are small enough that I didn’t feel the need to tear them. Second, they don’t have that bitter taste that fully grown spinach can take on. And finally, I was able to buy the spinach pre-washed and ready to go.
Although it’s not listed, this recipe was prepped in 10 minutes. The chicken cooked in 80 minutes, and the total time was 1 hour 40 minutes including wilting the greens and carving the chicken. My 5-quart cast-iron casserole was more than big enough to accommodate the chicken and left plenty of room for a large spoon when it came time to baste.
Note: It’s not listed in the instructions, but I used a slotted spoon to remove the lemon wedges and garlic cloves along with the cinnamon stick and star anise. I don’t think biting down on those would be a good experience!