The Season 5 premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones was a much anticipated event around here. (In this blog post, I’m going to disclose just how nerdy I can be. Will you accept me anyways?)
Oliver, who threatened to start the series over from Season One Episode One in anticipation, threw up his hands in excitement when I suggested that we roast a chicken for the premiere. “We can make a Game of Thrones feast!” he said.
When the opportunity presents itself to host a themed dinner, I’m never one to pass it up.
Now, I’ve been told that George R.R. Martin goes into excruciating detail over what was eaten at each of the festivities in the Seven Kingdoms, but I’ve got to be honest with you: some of those meals require ingredients that I wouldn’t even know how to find (Dothraki Blood Pies? A raw horse heart? Yeesh!). I enjoy a bit of historical fiction as much as the next person, but decided that our Medieval-inspired feast would stay a bit more on the realistic side. The main event: A Spice Roasted Almond Milk Chicken.
In the middle ages, spices were far more rare than they are today. My kitchen, with jars and jars of spices, and electric spice grinder, and a mortar and pestle would have been a medieval chef’s dream come true. Most of the recipes recovered from the middle ages call for the same spices: cinnamon, grains of paradise, and ginger. On occasion they’ll call for sage and pepper, too. Almond Milk, made by grinding almond powder with water or broth, was very common in poultry recipes. Pulling a bit of inspiration from the collections of recovered medieval recipes online (like this one and this one) as well as Jamie Oliver’s famous Chicken in Milk, I put together this recipe for a “medieval-like” dinner. It uses ingredients that are easy to find in the modern world.
All that’s left? Invite the masses, pour the mead, and oh yeah—hit play!!
Total nerdiness aside, this dish is a must-make. The cinnamon and cloves are quite subtle, adding just a touch of natural sweetness. The lemons melt in the cavity of the chicken, spreading citrusy fragrance through the entire bird. And the pan sauce—well, every pan sauce is worth gushing over.
Spice Roasted Almond Milk Chicken
1 5-pound chicken
For the brine:
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
For the Roasted Chicken:
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup verjuice (I received mine as a gift) (Substitute 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar)
Zest of 2 lemons
10 garlic cloves
1 cinnamon stick (.25 oz)
5 whole cloves
2 tablespoon fresh sage leafs, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 large white onion
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of mace
1. Add the ingredients for the brine to a large container, which will fit the entire chicken. Pour enough water in to cover the chicken. Cover, and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
2. Once chicken is done brining, remove it from the fridge and dump out the brine. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
3. While the oven preheats, prepare the spices and stuffing: zest the lemons, mince 5 of the garlic cloves, mince the ginger and herbs, and toss these ingredients with the cloves and mace. Then, cut the onion into wedges, and slice one of the lemons into fourths.
4. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a dutch oven or braising pan. Rub the chicken with the spice mix. (Tip: I like to slip my fingers under the chicken skin, rubbing the spices into the flesh itself). Season the entire chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff the onion wedges, remaining garlic cloves, and lemon into the cavity of the chicken.
5. Pour the almond milk and verjuice into the bottom of the pan, cover with an oven-safe lid, and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, taking off the lid, and use a brush to bast the bird with the liquid in the bottom of the pan. Return to the oven, this time with out the lid, and cook for an additional 45 minutes.
6. The chicken is done when a thermometer reads 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh, and the juices run clear. I like my skin a bit crispy, so I returned it to the oven at this point and cranked up the heat to 475°F for 10 more minutes--just to get it browned.