Buttermilk is one of those old-fashioned sorts of ingredients that has generally been thrown out since America’s obsession with eating “low-fat” in the industrial age of food. Many hear the word “butter” in buttermilk and freak without actually understanding what it is. No, it is not buttery milk (as I used to think)…although I’m certain that would be delicious. Traditionally, buttermilk was simply a by-product of the butter making process. When the milk was churned, the fats made the butter. What was left behind was buttermilk, the milky substance from which the fat was removed. So, in actuality, the buttermilk was actually lower in fat than the milk itself!
Today, most manufacturers fake the buttermilk process by aging milk and adding bacteria to cause fermentation. Because of this, the buttermilk will be higher in fat than in older times, but it will absolutely not be the end of you, I promise. Everything in moderation.
In many cultures, dairy products are used to make brines for meat. Many used to believe that the acids and enzymes in buttermilk and yogurt tenderized meat. However, studies are beginning to show that it is the calcium in dairy products that triggers enzymes which break down proteins that hold bundles of muscle fibers together. In other words, the calcium makes the meat really, really tender. Like unbelievably, I-can’t-stop-eating-this-fall-off-the-bone-tender. This recipe, for buttermilk roasted chicken, was originally developed by the lovely and sophisticated, Nigella Lawson. It was then adapted by the lovely and ingenious, Deb of smittenkitchen.com. I didn’t dare tweak any bit of Deb’s work (except for adding a bit more garlic) as I know her dishes always turn out perfectly. This time was no different. This dish was simple, shamefully easy, and make-you-melt-into-a-puddle-of-buttermilk delicious.
Another meal in which Michael and I found ourselves groaning as we ate.
Don’t judge. Try this recipe and you will understand.
Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Adapted from smittenkitchen.com
2 cups buttermilk
7 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp table salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken legs
Drizzle of olive oil
Coarse sea salt, to finish
Whisk buttermilk with garlic, table salt, sugar, paprika and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Place chicken in a freezer bag and pour buttermilk mixture over all the pieces. Be sure all parts are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for 24- 48 hours.
When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil. Remove chicken from buttermilk marinade and arrange in dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste. Roast for 30 minutes until brown and cooked through. Serve immediately.
Note: Save your extra buttermilk to make super creamy mashed potatoes! “I don’t have a recipe for that,” you might say.
Good thing that will be my next post.