Friday, February 03, 2012


Sure, it’s fun to slather it in mustard or coat it in breadcrumbs or top it with complicated sauces, but sometimes you just want chicken that tastes like chicken, you know? Roasting a chicken is not hard, but sometimes you don’t feel like wrangling the whole damn bird (ugh, carving exhausts me), or maybe you only want your favorite parts (because I am young at heart, I dig the drumsticks). Yet you still want your chickeny chicken to be incredibly moist and flavorful, am I right? For those occasions, there is buttermilk chicken.

Adapted by the Smitten Kitchen from Nigella Lawson, this clever recipe takes the buttermilk brine that’s the secret to nearly every good fried chicken recipe and…doesn’t fry it. After a daylong soak in its salty, sweet, tangy, garlicky bath, the chicken gets tossed in a baking dish and thrown into the oven with absolutely no further effort from you—and the simple flavors mean that you can get away with serving pretty much anything as a side dish. It just may be the ultimate weeknight chicken dinner.

I’ll admit I was skeptical the whole way through; after a commenter pointed out the similarity, all I could think of when I looked at the raw chicken covered in creamy pink marinade was the Ramona book where the Quimby girls improvise a meal out of chicken, banana yogurt, and chili powder. But sure enough, the end result was some of the juiciest, most tender roasted chicken I’ve ever made.

2 cups buttermilk
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons paprika, plus extra for sprinkling (I used smoked paprika, which was tasty)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2½ to 3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken parts (I used all drumsticks)
Drizzle of olive oil
Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish

1. In a large bowl, whisk buttermilk with garlic, table salt, sugar, paprika, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Place chicken parts in a gallon-sized freezer bag or a lidded container and pour buttermilk brine over them, then swish it around so that all parts are covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours (that’s the optimal time, but in a pinch you can do as few as 2 hours and up to 48).

2. When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and arrange in dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through and browned.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes, plus 24 hours of brining
Leftover potential: OK.

1 comment:

Helene said...

I was searching for a recipe using buttermilk without having to use some kind of breading on it! Thank you for sharing this! I'm making it tonight and sharing it on Pinterest!!!