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Primal lemon and sage chicken in cream is a riff on Jamie Oliver’s recipe for chicken in milk, an unusual recipe with a fervent following. In Oliver’s recipe, a whole chicken is roasted with an odd combination of ingredients: milk, cinnamon, garlic, sage and lemon. That odd combination turns into a roasted bird swimming in an amazing sauce scented with lemon and sage. You really have to try it to believe how good it is.
But consider trying this version first, which is richer, creamier and even more succulent. Using bone-in chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken cuts down on the cooking time and guarantees juicy, succulent meat. Using whole cream instead of milk results in a sauce that is rich and smooth instead of curdled.
The combination of whole cream, chicken drippings and butter sends the fat content of this dish soaring, which is a good thing if adding healthy fat to your diet is a priority. This lemon and sage chicken is so good and so easy to make that it’s sure to become a favorite.
Servings: 4 to 6
Time in the Kitchen: 25 minutes, plus 45 minutes in the oven
Preheat oven to 375º F/190º C
Recipe Note: For this recipe, strips of lemon zest are better than grated zest. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, remove the yellow peel from most of the lemon, being careful to leave the white pith behind. Use a knife to cut the pieces of peel into thin strips.
In an ovenproof skillet that will fit all the chicken, heat the avocado oil/red palm oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, skin side down. When the chicken is nicely browned, flip it over. Carefully tilt the skillet and pour some of the oil out, leaving only a thin layer.
Add the butter, garlic, cinnamon stick, sage leaves and lemon zest. Right when the butter just begins to turn brown, pour in the cream. Bring the cream to a gentle boil and then put the skillet in the oven.
Cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the chicken is done and the sauce is bubbly and thickened.
If needed, add a little salt to the sauce before eating. (The garlic cloves can be easily slipped out of their skins while you eat.)