Without a doubt, the very best part of fried chicken is the battered, seasoned, gold-tinged and impossibly crispy exterior - too bad that it is a no-no for us to eat it. But, as far as I’m concerned, the tender chicken within is no distant second. My grandmother's southern fried chicken recipe had you soak the uncooked chicken in a brine of buttermilk and seasonings for at least a day, resulting in meat that was decadently tasty and tender long before it hit the cast iron frying pan. Why shouldn't we have that decadence without all the grease and carbs?
This is what I thought when I stumbled on an old recipe four weeks ago and for three of them, I sat at my desk staring at my computer screen, editing away. Dreaming mostly of the buttermilk chicken I would finally make when I was done. The recipe turned out to be a good place to start, but I wanted more — a longer soak, more salt, less oil, more garlic and, for some reason, I felt the recipe was itching for paprika. So, I went another round with it — finishing it with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle more of paprika and coarse salt before roasting it — and this, at last, was the buttermilk chicken I had dreamed about.
Despite the day-long soaking time — and trust me, the difference between a two-hour soak and a day-long one is TREMENDOUS. Tremendous enough that I implore you to hold out for it — this recipe is a cinch, and totally fits my other side project: getting a relatively hassle-free, wholesome dinner on the table as many nights a week as possible. It takes five minutes to throw together the buttermilk brine the evening before, and (with legs, at least) just 30 minutes to roast. In that time, you can toss a salad or roast another vegetable and later watch in awe as your family inhales this luscious chicken. Needless to say, I plan to make a habit of this recipe - and I think Granny would be proud.Buttermilk Roast ChickenNutrition Facts
Serving Size 178g (about 6 oz)
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 4.8g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Total Carbohydrates 2.1g
2 cups buttermilk
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated Splenda
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus extra for sprinkling (I used Hungarian, a smoked one would also be delicious)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce (or to taste)
2 pounds chicken parts (I prefer dark meat)
Drizzle of olive oil
Flaked or coarse salt, to finish
Whisk buttermilk with garlic, table salt, Splenda, hot sauce, paprika and lots of freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Place chicken parts in a gallon-sized freezer bag (or lidded container) and pour buttermilk brine over them, then swish it around so that all parts are covered. Refrigerate for at least 2 but preferably 24 and up to 48 hours. More is BETTER!
When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking dish with foil (not absolutely necessary, but I never mind having a dish that cleans up easily).
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 minutes (for legs, thighs and wings; approximately 35 to 40 for breasts), until brown and a bit scorched in spots.
Cook's Notes: This same method works remarkably well with thick sliced pork loin or pork chops