The Kitchen Shelf by Eve O’Sullivan & Rosie Reynolds

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Rather like the cost-per-wear fashion theory that inspired the idea of single, relatively expensive food items that made three of four different meals, the authors of The Kitchen Shelf have also used a fashion analogy to explain a culinary thesis. Theirs is the notion of a capsule wardrobe – if you have a basic, perfectly stocked larder, their thinking goes, then you can ‘create delicious, effortless food every day by the simple addition of one or two star ingredients picked up on the way home from work. The introductory section is bafflingly opaque, involving venn diagrams and so on, but once you get to the main part of the book – 10 chapters based on 10 single ingredients (tin of tomatoes, rice, eggs, flour) accompanied by relevant recipes – it all becomes clearer. Thus, the tinned tomato chapter contains recipes for shakshuka, tomato sauce, shrimp and tomato curry; turn to the bar of chocolate chapter and you get rosemary chocolate pots, chocolate toasties and chocolate almond cake. Chicken cooked in milk with lemon and garlic comes in the bottle of milk chapter.


Serves 4–6


1 × 3¼-lb/1.5-kg whole chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

2½ cups (20 fl oz/600 ml) milk

1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled and left whole

2 lemons, zested and cut into wedges

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas mark 4.
  • Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (casserole dish) large enough to fit the chicken over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes until the chicken is browned all over.
  • In a bowl, whisk the mustard into the milk, then pour into the Dutch oven and add the remaining ingredients. Cover with the lid and cook in the hot oven for 1½ hours, basting 2 or 3 times during cooking. The milk will curdle but don’t worry, it’s supposed to. When done—insert a skewer into the thickest part of the chicken, such as the thigh, and if the juices that run out are clear it is cooked, if pink then cook for a few minutes longer, and test again.
  • When done, cut the bird into pieces and serve drizzled with the sauce and curds.

The Kitchen Shelf by Eve O’Sullivan and Rosie Reynolds, Phaidon £24.95,