How Milk Can Help You Make The Juiciest Roast Chicken

Looking to put your culinary skills to the test? Try roasting a chicken. On the surface, the process is quite simple. An elegant bird is seasoned, placed in a roasting pan or atop a wire rack fitted within suitable cooking vessels, then roasted whole for about 70 minutes, per MasterClass. But such simplicity is often disguised in a multitude of smaller steps — and ones that could make or break how the chicken turns out.

Such steps aim to achieve the juiciest roast chicken known to man, and guess what? They're pretty commonplace on the internet. You've got brining, marinating, placing the chicken breast side down on a wire rack, using a food thermometer to check for doneness, and resting the poor bird after it's done roasting, via Fine Cooking.

But do you know what else makes a bird juicy and tender? Milk. And if Cleopatra bathed in this stuff to make her skin look and feel better, per Jama Network, then perhaps the texture of chicken can also be enhanced with milk. Here's why it works.

Milk has lots of calcium

It all started with Jamie Oliver's "chicken in milk" recipe that created a buzz among culinary enthusiasts. After frying a whole chicken in butter and oil, Oliver suggests roasting it in a pot of garlic cloves, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks, sage, and milk. This "milk sauce" is then basted over the chicken throughout its 90-minute cooking time, resulting in zesty, garlicky, and ultra-tender meat.

Taste of Home states that milk tenderizes chicken because of its abundance of calcium, which helps to "kick-start a natural enzyme in the chicken." TheForkBite adds to this by explaining that milk products like buttermilk and yogurt help to "break down" tough collagen and protein in chicken due to their lactic acid. Here's how the culinary blog sums this process up: "Lactic acid destabilizes protein and calcium accelerates the natural breakdown process." The result? Tender, juicy, and softened chicken meat.

So you can either go with Jamie Oliver's method by basting the chicken with milk (which aids in a decadent sauce) or opt for marinating the chicken with fermented milk products, per Foods Guy. No matter which you choose, you'll still end up with the juiciest roasted chicken that will be the star of any dinner party.