Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Buttermilk Brined Chicken

Those of you who know me know that I've come to love making my own butter, especially cultured butter. But what to do with the residual buttermilk?

Sure, you can incorporate buttermilk into sweet breads, pies, and cakes, make pancakes with it, dunk chicken into it to make fried chicken. In fact, there are endless things you can do with buttermilk. But with only one cup at a time... well, I thought about it and decided that with the amount of chicken I make for myself for a couple of meals I could use it for brining.

Now I actually don't usually brine chicken--or turkey for that matter. I guess I'm a lazy cook. But the thought of the chicken thighs and wings bathing for 24 hours in that buttermilk, augmented with some salt and pepper, some garlic, and my favorite smoky Aleppo pepper was irresistible.

It's easy enough to pull all these ingredients together and pour them over the chicken. I started out with them in a casserole dish but realized that a gallon zip-lock bag would be much better for full immersion. In the course of the day, I periodically reached into the fridge and flipped the bag around to make sure the pieces were equally saturated.

Once I was ready to cook them, I heated the oven to 400° and drained the brine, and placed the chicken pieces on a rack over a foil-covered tray. I roasted them for close to an hour, ultimately slicking down the chicken  with honey for the last 10 minutes before removing the tray from the oven.

What the buttermilk brine did was sublime. The chicken was beautifully tender. The flavors were subtle--a hint of the garlic and Aleppo pepper remained--and the skin crispy and sweet from the honey.

I'd love to hear how you use buttermilk! Leave me your ideas in the comments below!

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