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The Delicious Appreciations of Pick Yin

Not exactly predictable.
Has enough brains for codes
(but can be completely clueless on other more important matters).
Likes her Joe (and her man?) black, her chocolate dark and her food spicy.
“Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.” — Seneca

Total Posts   191      Last Updated   23 November 2015 12:00 PM (GMT +8)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

buttermilk roast chicken

"So you love cooking huh?"

I get this from time to time, as if cooking is some sort of a hobby only a selected group of weird people do and not what our forefathers back in the primitive days of the Stone Age had done as soon as they mastered building a roasting pit and the hunting bit after the gathering. Struggling to come up with a response, my face would contract and my eyes would twitch. Should I say something politically correct (Oh I just do it for fun, you know...) or should I strive to inspire (It's more satisfying than eating out...) or should I just be honest (It's because I really, really, really love to eat!). Then out comes a mumbled "Uhuh...", to which is usually returned with "Oh but it's just so much work! All that prep, and heat, and washing..."

I don't know about you but I've always been a permanent fixture in the kitchen since I was old enough to figure out knives cut and fire burns. Initially I was assigned all the boring jobs like laying out old newspaper on the floor to catch all those Chinese stir fry oil splashes, washing produce, handing over the seasonings, frantically looking for that ingredient my mother forgot she needed, scrubbing the wok spotless for the next dish and folding up the brown, grease stained newspapers back for next time. Baking projects were similarly handled, where my mother took care of the complicated folding in while I did the apprentice leg work - arranging the mise, measuring, sifting, dividing eggs, washing up the buttered out mixing bowl and beaters.

By the time I was in high school, I'd spent enough evenings standing beside the stove observing my mother's moves to differentiate between just done and overcooked for meats and vegetables. My brother and I would come back to an empty house at lunch time with my parents away at work and I'd proceed to whip up things like fried noodles, fried rice, fish ball soup and chicken chop for us to be enjoyed in front of the tele, after which I'd make him do all the dishes while I wipe down the kitchen before my mother returned to prepare dinner. When the school had class parties (this was often, all my form teachers were ardent cooks), I would bake entire frosted cakes on my own to contribute.

buttermilk roast chicken

I find kitchen time a way to zone out into my own little world. There aren't a lot of waking hours available where my mind would be free to wander off in peace. As my knife methodically sliced through onions, chilies and garlic, I would be free to think about things - where should we go this weekend, should I get those linens from Etsy, where do I find a beige/cream dress for that friend's wedding in less than 2 weeks, crap (!) I still haven't booked that flight back to said wedding. Then I'd stash all the prep utensils into one sink bin, wipe down the bench and start the fire. If it was a dish I've done more than 20 times or am vaguely confident of even on the first attempt, I would continue with my daydreaming. As the chicken pieces sizzled and seared in the hot skillet, splashing goose fat all over the stove and counter, the buttermilk and smoked paprika brine aroma perhaps driving the next door neighbor crazy; I'd be thinking about vacationing in Melbourne again, if Vijay would like this new but no-brainer dish, what to eat for breakfast before work tomorrow and that I should've really taken down the laundry now that half of my work clothes all smelled of buttermilk chicken.

buttermilk roast chicken

A meal which finishes in the oven is always best because in that 20-30 minutes I could continue wondering how fat I would look in a beige dress while my hands automatically run a damp dish towel down the oily counter and spotted backsplash. Then the dish soap gets squeezed into my blue plastic pail set in the clean bin of the sink and all the soiled stuff from the next bin get cleaned while I schemed carefully on how I could fit in 2 hours of workout the coming Saturday so I would look less like a beached whale tented up in beige, should I fail to convince the bride her less than size 6 girlfriends would all really be prettier in dark purple. Halfway into the roasting, I'd interrupt my bubbled dreams to take a peek into the oven just to make sure nothing was turning black. As eventually, even I began to smell like buttermilk roast chicken, the dish cloth got a good soaping before going through the counter, stove and hood once more.

The timer's beep would be the cue for me to step into the shower before Vijay would come through the front door from work, beaming and telling me how he could smell something fantastic all the way from the next block and both of us would be parked on the sofa with the kitchen behind us, my issues sorted, Mad Men running, over plates of tender, faintly spiced roast chicken. What's not to love about cooking?
Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Adapted barely from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen, the original version by Nigella Lawson can be found here.
Serves 4 to 6.
Prep time 10 mins, cook time approximately 20 mins.
Begin this recipe at least 1 day ahead.

Note: I made this in a cast iron skillet just because (1) I was too lazy to line a baking dish with parchment and (2) I wanted to use my cast ironware more often. There is really no need to line your baking dish if you're using this recipe as the sugar content is quite low and hardly any drippings result from it to give you a hard time at the sink. As usual, I made my own buttermilk as the boxed stuff had been missing from the store for weeks - use 1 tablespoon acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to 1 cup whole milk (I take no responsibilities if you use skim and then realize the outcome is short). I roasted 5 pieces after 48 hours and the rest 1 day later without incident.

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus extra for sprinkling (I used smoked)
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken parts (I used 3 thighs and 6 legs)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish
  • 3 teaspoons goose/duck fat (optional)
  • Chopped coriander (optional, parsley or thyme works well too)

In the measuring up of the buttermilk, whisk it with the garlic, salt, sugar, paprika and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Place all the chicken parts in a gallon-sized freezer bag (or lidded container) and pour the buttermilk brine over them. Swish it around so that all parts are covered. Refrigerate for at least 2 but preferably 24 and up to 48 hours (as mentioned earlier, we tried an extra 24 hours without incident).

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425°F (fan on for convection). Heat up a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Add in the goose/duck fat if using, drizzle over some olive oil. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine, shake off excess and arrange skin side up on the skillet. Turn off heat. (If using a baking dish, just arrange the chicken in it skin side up.) Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste. Roast for 20 minutes if using cast iron skillet or 25-30 minutes if using baking dish, until brown and done. Garnish with herbs of choice if using, serve immediately with pan drippings over some potatoes or greens.

48 Comments on Buttermilk Roast Chicken

I can TOTALLY resonate with this post!!!! OMG. I was smiling as I read the whole post. As a result, I have to send in this comment right away!

The 3 of us should cook in a small kitchen one day and then the men can watch their thing on the tele while we are at that. It should be fun!

I too love a meal that finishes cooking in the oven for the same reason!

Posted by Anonymous Mrs Ergül, at Feb 28, 2012, 2:53:00 PM  

Great post.. It was like reading a Julia child diary or something heee.. And I can totally relate on the laundry part.. Sometimes I forgot to take them down too..

Posted by Blogger Ribbon and Circus, at Feb 28, 2012, 3:52:00 PM  

Oh yeah I can relate to that. I usually say "oh yeah cooking is fun.. u should try that.. "

Posted by Anonymous Swee San @ The Sweet Spot, at Feb 29, 2012, 12:03:00 AM  

This chicken looks flavorful and moist!

Posted by Anonymous Simply Tia, at Feb 29, 2012, 6:14:00 AM  

I can't wait to make this! I LOVE Buttermilk Fried Chicken but I'm a bit scared of deep frying so this is the perfect recipe for me! I'm the opposite. I didn't grow up cooking nor did I have a mom that cooked much so I had to teach myself once I got older. No I adore being in the kitchen and it's my lil slice of heaven!

Posted by Blogger Cookie, at Feb 29, 2012, 8:15:00 AM  

Like you, I was given the less pleasant jobs in the kitchen when I was younger... namely like plucking bean sprouts and vegetables... never been allowed to cook or bake until much much older. But I totally agree with you, working in the kitchen can be therapeutic inspite of the messes that I generally make out of it-especially when I am attempting a new recipe. You have so many great chicken recipes!

Posted by Blogger Shirley @ Kokken69, at Feb 29, 2012, 9:39:00 AM  

Chicken recipes for the whole family will always be welcome to visit our household. Everybody at home loves chicken! I'd love to share this my friends too. I love your blog...Keep posting!

Posted by Blogger MyFudo™, at Feb 29, 2012, 10:03:00 AM  

Que pollo tan sabroso ¡¡¡
Me comería un muslo solo con ver su presentación.
Me ha gustado mucho tu Blog.
Te voy a seguir.

Un abrazo.

Posted by Blogger cocinar y salir, at Mar 1, 2012, 5:06:00 PM  

i IS so gonna make this dish. The boys will love it!!

Except that i cant decide whether to go with rice or naan or potato or.. ?? What do u think?

Posted by Anonymous Sherie @ Maameemoomoo, at Mar 2, 2012, 11:16:00 AM  

Mrs Ergül: Sure we should do a cook together thing, then get the men to clean up afterwards! :D

Ribbon Clown: The joy of HDB living in Singapore, but then again I never have to worry about rainy days. ;)

Swee San: ... and you're doing more of that. Am so jealous of your new kitchen.

Simply Tia: Thank you!

Cookie: I think it's only natural to learn how to cook at some point of your life. It's human nature.

Shirley: When attempting a new recipe (which in my case is half the time), I'll do extensive research and planning to avoid pitfalls (as much as possible). I will start making a mess when things go wrong (curdled custard, over-whipped cream etc.) because of stress and then having no time to clean/wipe down. It won't look pretty from then on till I get the kitchen back to zen mode again.

On the bursting poultry recipe section, I'd like to diversify and cook more fish, but the truth is we really eat a lot of chicken.

MyFudo: Thank you!

cocinar: Muchas gracias!

Sherie: The drippings are good with bread and potatoes definitely. If eating with rice better flavored ones like fried rice. Happy cooking!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Mar 2, 2012, 11:51:00 AM  

THIS IS IT EXACTLY! You really describe it like how I behave and feel whilest cooking. Apart that your recipe sounds and looks great - I will cook that!

Posted by Blogger foodpippa, at Mar 8, 2012, 4:25:00 PM  

foodpippa: Deb never leads us astray, this recipe is a keeper. I also do some other things while cooking, will talk about that in upcoming posts.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Mar 8, 2012, 4:31:00 PM  

Would this work just as well with skinless Chicken breasts?

Posted by Anonymous Tiffany, at Mar 9, 2012, 1:57:00 AM  

Tiffany: Skinless breast works as well but watch the roasting time. (less)

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Mar 9, 2012, 2:28:00 AM  

Did anybody actually try this dish yet? How did it turn out? Any changes made?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Mar 12, 2012, 10:15:00 AM  

This chicken is delish. Made it last week and am thinking about making it again this week! I marinated it for about 12 hours and baked at 375 for an hour. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Mar 17, 2012, 10:47:00 PM  

Anon: You're welcome. Thanks for the temperature and timing mention!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Mar 21, 2012, 8:00:00 PM  

This is the second time I'm making this recipe. The first time I made it I was skeptical it would brown but it looked just like the picture. Deeelish! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Apr 5, 2012, 6:50:00 AM  

Ooh! This is one of my go-to recipes for chicken! Your site is beautiful, Pick Yin. I wanna pick at your pictures with a fork!

Posted by Anonymous Rei, at Apr 8, 2012, 10:32:00 PM  

Anon: Good to hear! As long as the oven is hot enough, anything will brown in it!

Rei: Thank you. I can't believe I'm so late into discovering this recipe, but there is just so many out there to try!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Apr 9, 2012, 10:48:00 AM  

I tried this last night - delicious! I cut up a whole chicken, brined/marinated for about 36 hours, then roasted for about 40 minutes at 425. The larger leg/thigh and bone-in breasts needed the extra time. It was a hit.

Posted by Anonymous Karla H, at Apr 17, 2012, 1:45:00 AM  

Karla H: Thanks for the great feedback! Anything tested by Smitten Kitchen is usually fail safe.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Apr 19, 2012, 8:28:00 PM  

I found this on Pinterest and the chicken has been marinating for about 30 hours. Getting ready to pop it in the oven...I'm very excited!

Posted by Blogger Tristine Fleming, at May 1, 2012, 4:25:00 AM  

Tristine: Hope it turned out good for you!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at May 2, 2012, 10:20:00 PM  

I liked your thoughts on what you do while cooking. Same here. Cooking is a time to get lost in thoughts. I have made this delicious recipe two times. It is fabulous. I was skeptical that it would brown up, but it did. The finished dish looked just like the picture. I'm going to marinate some chicken today for tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Anonymous Vicky, at May 7, 2012, 4:26:00 AM  

Vicky: Leave anything long enough in a hot oven, it will surely brown. Hope it turned out good for you!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at May 8, 2012, 9:32:00 AM  

do you turn the chicken over anytime during the cooking process?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Sep 19, 2012, 2:13:00 AM  

Anon: My oven is a convection, which requires no turning when roasting. If yours is not fan assisted, I recommend turning the chicken pieces once after about 3/4 of the cooking time.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Sep 19, 2012, 7:39:00 PM  

Wow! This recipe is so easy and so wonderfully delicious! Thank you! It is so flavorful and tasty. I loved it. My husband loved it. My kids loved it. Not a thing I would change. And I love that I get to use my cast iron skillet! Love it!

Posted by Blogger Unknown, at Oct 10, 2012, 11:05:00 AM  

I marinated boneless, skinless chicken tenders in this and then we tried to grill them- but it was so windy the grill kept blowing out. So we finished them off in the oven- I think this is the MOST tender chicken I've ever had! Great flavor too- now I need to try with bone-in pieces so I can get that great look!

Posted by Blogger What a Dish!, at Nov 15, 2012, 5:16:00 PM  

This is the most tender, delicious chicken. Thanks so much for the recipe! Everyone in my family loved it.

Sherry in Union, KY

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Dec 10, 2012, 11:04:00 AM  

Awesome recipe!! We loved it. Did have to cook mine for 45 minutes, could just be my old oven. thank you for sharing this.

Posted by Blogger Gail, at Jan 12, 2013, 10:30:00 AM  

I'm making this for the second time now; first time, we grilled it and it was delicious and so tender. I plan on roasting it tomorrow.

Posted by Blogger What a Dish!, at Jan 26, 2013, 7:08:00 PM  

Have been looking for a good buttermilk chicken recipe for a long time. I love the comment about whole milk and the use of duck fat. By the way some of us men love to cook as well. I find it just as rewarding as my woodworking and quite similar.

Posted by Blogger Unknown, at Apr 19, 2013, 1:35:00 AM  

how did you get the skin to be so crispy?

Posted by Anonymous Angelica, at May 23, 2013, 9:20:00 AM  

Angelica: A fan-forced oven and cast iron skillet usually do the trick. Roasting anything at this temperature for 20 over minutes should turn anything crispy!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at May 28, 2013, 9:50:00 AM  

my mother hardly cooked when i was growing up so i had to teach myself. i would watch family members cook and ask questions and write things down .i bought cheap cookbooks when i was newly married to my first husband and had a lot of failures but never gave up. now i can bake or cook almost anything. i love to be in the kitchen.unfortunetely neither of my daughters take after me. they cook simple things and laugh when i ask them if they want a recipe for something they eat here.i have a son who likes to cook.i am going to try this chicken recipe soon it looks so good.

Posted by Blogger judi, at Jun 7, 2013, 12:21:00 AM  

I have actually never cooked with buttermilk.. feel like I'm missing out. I need to try this out asap!

Teffy || Teffys Perks Blog


Posted by Blogger Teffy @ Sprinkle of Green, at Jul 11, 2013, 4:19:00 AM  

Your a beautiful writer. Your words made me want to keep reading and learning.

Posted by Blogger Unknown, at Aug 25, 2013, 9:41:00 AM  

Loved reading your processes and musings while you cooked. You sound like what true modern day cooks should be like. It made me smile throughout your description. :)

The funny thing is I make a similar recipe but I use yogurt and my herbs are rosemary and garlic. I lightly dust the marinated chicken in flour before frying it. Never read a recipe for it but came up with the idea on my own. Anyone who cooks all their family meals for decades (like I have) instinctively gets the feel for what works together and what doesn't.

I really like the idea of finishing it off in the oven though and will do that next time I make it. So I'm very greateful for that idea. I'm now going to check out other posts and recipes of yours. Even if I use only a few or adapt them, I adore reading your descriptions. You're not just a great cook but an astute writer too!

Posted by Blogger Isom, at Aug 20, 2014, 4:11:00 AM  

Forgot to click on emailing follow-up comments. ;P

Posted by Blogger Isom, at Aug 20, 2014, 4:11:00 AM  

This is my go to baked chicken recipe because it is the only one the husband didn't balk it. It was the crispy skin thatwo him over and he actually requests this weekly. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Oct 13, 2014, 8:10:00 AM  

Just wanted to thank you for this recipe. It is the juiciest, crispiest roast chicken I've ever made. I make it 2-3 times a month and even use it to make my turkey breast for sandwiches. Only change is I cook that at 350 without convection until the meat thermometer says it's done. Yum!

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Feb 16, 2015, 12:53:00 AM  

Was intrigued by this recipe. Looked soooo good! Roasted mine with Greek low fat yogurt as I was out of milk and refused to drive to store in all this snow!!! Also used herb de province & no duck fat at 425for 45 minutes. Can't wait! Perfect Oscar night dinner!!!

Posted by Blogger Out2Lunch3896, at Feb 23, 2015, 4:58:00 AM  

Roasting a chicken on Sunday night is a great way to have a nice meal then and throughout the week:)

Posted by Blogger Unknown, at Apr 1, 2015, 10:20:00 AM  

The flavor and tenderness of this recipe is amazing. However the skin did not crisp up as beautifully as the picture. I did forget to sprinkle paprika on it before putting it in the oven, didn't use duck fat and I don't have a convection oven. I cooked 5 legs since it is just me and my husband and I cooked them on 425 for about 20-25 minutes. Should I have patted the chicken dry before putting it in the cast iron pan? Can someone tell me what I did wrong? Any help would be great since I plan on making this again and again.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Nov 2, 2015, 6:55:00 PM  

where can I get duck fat?

Posted by Blogger Unknown, at Nov 3, 2015, 3:26:00 AM  

Anon: If your oven is not strong enough (with a fan), avoid crowding the pan and pat dry the chicken pieces before roasting to encourage crispiness.

Colleen: The duck fat is optional. Here we can get it from most butchers or gourmet stalls.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Nov 23, 2015, 8:07:00 AM  

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