I've always loved Jamie Oliver's original recipe. I've modified to get a stronger, tangier lemony herbaceous flavor. I slightly modified the cooking method as well. I've written 2 techniques, one using a whole chicken and one using bone-in thighs. This chicken is fantastic either way! —Leith Devine
whole chicken or chicken thighs, bone-in
Set oven to 400 degrees. In a large, deep cast iron pot, put in either the whole chicken or the chicken thighs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If using thighs, place in single layer.
Bake chicken for 30 minutes or until skin in browned.
While the chicken is cooking, zest the lemon, setting aside 2 of the lemons. Juice 1 lemon and chop the remainder. Halve the cinnamon stick and crush the star anise using a heavy pan. Get the garlic cloves, sage and thyme leaves together. Chop the parsley.
When the chicken has browned, remove the pot from the oven and lower the heat to 350 degrees.
For a whole chicken: Add the milk, lemon zest, cinnamon stick halves, star anise, thyme, lemon juice and chopped lemon and garlic cloves to the pan. Don't sprinkle the zest on the chicken! Squeeze the juice of the other lemons onto and around the chicken. Using tongs, put the halves of 1 lemon and the parsley into the chicken cavity. Put whatever doesn't fit into the milk with the other ingredients.
For chicken thighs: Add the milk, lemon zest, cinnamon stick halves, star anise, thyme, lemon juice and chopped lemon and garlic cloves to the pan. Don't sprinkle the zest on the chicken! Squeeze the juice of the other lemons onto and around the chicken thighs. Put the lemon halves and chopped parsley into the milk mixture.
Place the pot, with a lid, back into the oven for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165.
Remove pot from oven, and remove chicken to rest. If desired, sauce can be combined using a hand blender, but I like it separated. If combining, remove cinnamon, star anise and lemon halves.