Buttermilk – the word just sounds like a heart attack in a carton, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Buttermilk is every great cook’s secret. We do it for the tang, we do it for the tenderness, but above all we do it because it’s the right thing to do. And just to be clear, buttermilk is not a block of butter bathing in milk, it’s lower in fat than regular milk, and is the slightly sour “milk” left after butter is churned, hence “buttermilk”– think yogurt. Any protein marinated in buttermilk for any length of time results in meat that is well, like butter. Smooth, creamy, moist and buttry! Welcoming buttermilk into your pantry is like hiring a sous-chef who creates the magic while you’re not looking.
Buttermilk can show up almost anywhere – mains, baking, desserts, dressings, dips – my point? Buttermilk should be a staple in your fridge like ketchup, mustard & relish. And when you realize that a little here, or a lot there, is all you need to turn a tasty dish into an eyes-are-rolling-back-in-your-head dish – welcome to the what-some-cooks-know-and-others-need-to club. You are about to make an award-winning pile of gloriously crispy, fried-but-not-really-fried chicken. The lucky revellers will be searching for a big bucket or a dude with glasses & a goatee – I swear – so with that said, let’s see what all the fuss is about …
1. Gather the players – chicken, buttermilk and seasonings.
2. I cut up a whole chicken into 8 pieces – 2 legs, 2 breasts, 2 wings & 2 thighs. However you arrive at your pieces – they’ll all work. FYI – save the carcass for stock – bag & toss in the freezer for later.
3. Line a bowl with a ziploc bag and add the marinade ingredients – buttermilk, onion/garlic powder & s&p.
4. And because I can’t stop messin’ with my marinades – paprika and cayenne join the party for a little colour & as big a kick as you’re in the mood for. And if you really want to heat things up, bring on a few shots of hot sauce to the wet marinade.
5. Now, that’s what I’m talking about.
6. Stir it all around.
7. Add the chicken pieces to the buttermilk mixture.
8. And swish around to coat thoroughly.
9. Seal the bag, keep it in the bowl, and refrigerate ’til it’s time to fry. This can marinate anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight.
10. Get your dry ingredients together – flour, cayenne, paprika, salt & pepper.
11. Or add a few herbs (I didn’t this time, but I could have) – it’s your chicken, make it your own.
12. Mix together well – this is the coating which is how it all gets so crispy and I-really-came- from-a-bucket-like.
13. The easiest way to drain off the mariande is to dump the contents of the ziploc bag into a colander in the sink. Let drain for a minute or two – easy, peasy.
14. And start dredging – a fancy word for roll that chicken around in the dry mixture, shake off any excess and lay it on a platter to get ready for the hot pan. Turn your oven to 250° to warm up which is where you’ll hold your pan-fried chicken until you’re ready to devour it.
15. Keep dredging until there’s nothing left to dredge.
16. Heat up a pan (or 2 if you need it) to smokin’ and generously coat the pan(s) with oil – we’re frying after all. Sprinkle in a teeny bit of flour, if it sizzles, you’re good to go.
17. And start layin’ (carefully) down the chicken pieces.
18. Get all your chicken in the pan – resist the urge to touch them until the edges begin to brown – that’s the chicken saying, “hey, flip me over”!
19. And when you do, it will look like this – I know, I know – move them onto a paper towel to grab any excess oil. Let rest before digging in –
20. Move them to a serving dish, stand back, admire, accept the oooo’s & aaahhhhs – you just made an award-winning pile of gloriously crispy, fried-but-not-really-fried chicken.
INGREDIENTS & METHOD
1. Put a large ziploc bag in a bowl and add the following:
- 2-3 cups buttermilk
- 1 -2 tsps. each onion & garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2-1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
- 1-2 tsps. dried herbs, optional
- 8-12 pieces of chicken, your choice
- or cut up a whole chicken
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup panko, cornmeal, bread crumbs (or combo)
- 1/2 tsp. each onion, garlic powder, paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne, S&P
get creative with the marinade
The flavorings that can be added to a buttermilk marinade are as endless as your imagination – so here’s what my imagination is imagining –
- hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 5-spice powder, garlic
- sweet red chili sauce, soy sauce, grated ginger
- onion, dijon mustard, garlic, lemon juice
- fish sauce, sweet red chili sauce, garlic
- curry paste, turmeric, garlic
- soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, cilantro
- worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, green onion, red chilies
- seasoning blends & rubs, hot sauce
get creative with the breading
The flavorings that you can add to a breadcrumb/flour breading base are infinite – a little bit of this and a little bit of that –
Here are a few combos to get you started:
- cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic
- chili, garlic, lime zest, crushed tortilla chips
- dried oregano, dried basil, garlic, grated parmesan cheese
- orange zest, grated ginger, garlic & onion powder
- 5-spice powder, onion powder, garlic, sesame seeds
ways with buttermilk & chicken
- buttermilk roast chicken
- buttermilk baked chicken
- buttermilk fried chicken
- buttermilk pecan chicken
- grilled buttermilk chicken
- buttermilk chicken casserole
- chicken & buttermilk dumplings
- buttermilk chicken dumplings
- chicken with buttermilk gravy
- slow-cooked buttermilk chicken
- chicken & buttermilk soup
- chicken fajita with buttermilk dressing
- buttermilk battered chicken