Andrew’s Verdict: This dish provides an excellent, quick, and delicious way to cook chicken, perfect for a Sunday family dinner, or as an easy dinner any night. Experienced and inexperienced cooks: give this one a go. It’s fantastic.
A short, telling introduction: once, while attempting to strain pasta, I came very close to burning down our home. While I do love food (even if I did not, I believe that anyone who spends a significant amount of time around Linh would come away with at least some appreciation for food, even if it were merely peripheral, like wearing a black sweater and leaning against a chalk-covered blackboard written upon by a favorite professor), I do not possess the full passion which Linh does.
So, then, it should be clear: cooking is not my forte. I’ve never had much experience with it, nor have I had a great deal of success on those rare times when I stretched myself and tried to make a more elaborate dish.
Given my past difficulties, when I asked Linh to suggest a meal that I could prepare, the number one criterion was simplicity. After some thinking, she suggested this dish which originates from Smitten Kitchen; it promised to be a simple, delicious way to prepare roast chicken. The blurb, beginning with a mouth-watering description of chicken done to a golden-tinged exterior perfection with a rich, flavorful, moist interior from the marinade sold me.
Chicken roasted to perfection in 30 minutes.
The marinade was very simple and quick to make. I used a smoked Spanish paprika, and we’ve since prepared it with regular paprika (paprika can be found in many varieties). Both turned out delicious, it’s just a matter of taste as to whether you’d prefer a less spicy, smokier, woodsy chicken or a something in the spicier spectrum. I whipped up the marinade, dumped it in the bag with the chicken, and let it soak overnight. Easy. The original recipe noted that a day-long soak makes a remarkable difference, so that’s what I stuck to this time. We’ve since made this in a time-crunched two-hour soak, and while still yielding a tasty result, the 24 hour sit is definitely preferable. Roasting the chicken was a simple matter of 30 minutes in the oven at 425 (for legs; 35 to 40 minutes for breasts is suggested). As per the recipe, I drizzled the legs lightly with extra olive oil, and sprinkled paprika and some sea salt to taste.
Due to my lack of culinary experience (as previously noted), I messed up a bit and ended up with some soggy sides – a serving of broccoli that was on the limp side, and some ill-timed quinoa– which, in turn, caused me to leave the chicken in the oven a bit longer than I should have. As it turns out, the marinade saved the day by helping to attenuate any errors incurred from my poor form. The chicken came out of the oven moist and delicious.
Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Serves: 4 | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 30 – 35 minutes
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon table salt (OR 2 tablespoon of Kosher salt)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus extra for sprinkling (we used smoked)
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken parts (we used 8 chicken drumsticks)
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish
1. Whisk the buttermilk together with the garlic, salt, paprika, and as much freshly ground pepper as you’d like. Put the chicken parts into a large enough container (a big freezer bag, or a lidded conainer) and pour in the buttermilk brine. Swish the brine around, making sure the chicken is covered. Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, but preferably 24 to 48 hours.
Tip: if you’re marinating the chicken in a freezer bag, place the bag into a large bowl and place in the fridge. A bag that leaks into a bowl is a lesser problem than one that leaks chicken marinate in the fridge.
2. When you’re ready to roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil and lightly grease with oil. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk brine and arrange the pieces in a dish. Drizzle the chicken parts lightly with olive oil, and then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste. Roast it all for 30 – 35 minutes (for drumsticks; approximately 35 to 40 for breasts), until brown and a bit scorched in spots. Serve immediately. We had this with quinoa and steamed broccoli but rice would be an excellent side dish to the tender chicken.
Note: 1 cup of quinoa took 40 minutes to cook in our rice cooker and the broccoli may be steamed for 5 – 7 minutes (no longer than 10 minutes or it will start to wilt – just scroll up for the evidence).