Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk-Brined Roast Chicken

Recently, we were able to take a trip to visit our COVID-vaccinated parents/grandparents. Yay! My mother-in-law made us a delicious buttermilk-brined roasted turkey breast. I had already bookmarked this recipe, so I had to make it myself after we returned home. Yum.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Samin Nosrat. Using this simple brine, the meat was incredibly moist and tender. The skin also browned beautifully. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours, used a 10-inch cast iron skillet for roasting, and served the chicken with broccoli, gold potatoes, and sweet potatoes that I roasted simultaneously in the same oven. Easy and absolutely perfect.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used low-fat)
  1. The day before you plan to cook the chicken, remove the wing tips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife.
  2. Season chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into the buttermilk to dissolve.
  4. Place the seasoned chicken in a gallon-size (or 2 gallon-size) resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk.
  5. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, place in a rimmed dish or plate, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re so inclined, you can turn the bag periodically so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but it’s not essential. (I turned it upside down after 12 hours.)
  6. Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it.
  7. Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack set in the center position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can. (I just let it drip off.)
  9. Tightly tie together the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine.
  10. Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a shallow roasting pan.
  11. Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven. (The back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done.)
  12. After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
  13. Rotate the pan so the legs are facing the rear right corner of the oven. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh, and/or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. If the skin is getting too brown before it is cooked through, use a foil tent. (I tented the chicken in this step after 20 minutes.)
  14. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Easy Fridge Dill Pickles

This is the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted- and I’ve posted my favorite garlic bread recipe. 😉

Now that I’ve made them twice, I have to share the method because they were absolutely delicious. This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I listed the ingredients needed for each 24-ounce (3 cup) jar. I bought an enormous bag of Kirby cucumbers at a farm stand and just kept making pickles until they were all sliced. TONS of pickles! I filled an assortment of recycled jars, lining the top with saran wrap to keep the lid from absorbing the pickle scent.

I used fresh dill and crushed garlic cloves to flavor the brine, but sliced white onion, dill seeds or pickling spice were other suggested seasonings. Pickles may be the perfect snack.

Per 24-ounce Jar:

  • 4-5 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers (or enough to fill the jar)
  • 3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T chopped fresh dill and/or one dill sprig
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  1. Using a mandoline, cut the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place them in a lidded jar, filling the jar to the top.
  2. Add salt, dill, and garlic cloves.
  3. Pour in the white vinegar. The liquid level will be much lower than the height of the cucumbers but will adjust as they wilt.
  4. Close the jar, lining the lid with saran wrap if desired, and shake to distribute the ingredients.
  5. Place the jar in the refrigerator and shake it once or twice over the next few hours.
  6. Pickles are ready to eat in 6 to 8 hours but will keep, submerged in their brine, for up to 3 weeks.

Notes:

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp dill seeds or 1 T of pickling spice can be substituted for the fresh dill.
  • Thinly sliced white onion can be substituted for the garlic cloves.
  • Seedless cucumbers can be substituted for Kirby cucumbers but the pickles may be less crunchy.

Coke-Brined Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Gravy

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Springtime brings the obvious pleasures of green grass, flowers, fresh air, eating outside, etc. But every year at my house, we also have a little house finch who builds her nest (with her significant other) next to our door. She sits there so sweetly. She sings. She drives our cat crazy! 🙂

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We also usually struggle with Canadian geese all over our lawn… but this year our yard has been claimed by a duck couple.  They walk side by side in conversation completely fearless of the real homeowners! They swim side by side on our pool cover. Such a nice change from the geese. I am assuming we will be welcoming ducklings soon. 🙂

Another springtime event in my world is my husband’s birthday dinner. It requires a lot of thought (on his part), a lot of cooking (on my part), and usually a lot of indulgence. This year was no exception! But, I am going to have to tell you that it was really really good.

My husband grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and has a real love for southern food. It’s just hearty and comforting – and good. 🙂 After he decided on his wish list menu, I searched far and wide for the perfect fried chicken recipe. This Coke-brined version was adapted from Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans, Louisiana by way of John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi via the New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. (Credit needs to be paid when credit is due!) The Coke tenderizes the meat but also results in deep-mahogany brown, sweet, super-moist chicken. I modified the recipe to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs- of course! Delicious- and the leftovers were wonderful cold as well.

My husband’s wish list menu also included biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese (a side dish in the South!), caesar salad (yes- there was actually something green), and vanilla bean birthday cheesecake. (I mentioned it was an indulgent meal, right?) I made the fabulous giant biscuits I had made in the past for Fried Chicken Biscuits. Why mess with perfection? The milk gravy recipe was adapted from The Pioneer Woman.com. Yum!

This dish is the “grand finale” of my chicken thigh “festival”!! (for now, anyway…) Happy Birthday, Mr. Brookcook! 🙂

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Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Coke-Brined Fried Chicken:

For the Brine:

  • 5 cups Coca-Cola (I used 3 12-oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 teaspoons mild hot sauce like Sriracha, Crystal, Texas Pete or Cholula
  • 10 to 15 boneless skinless chicken thighs

For the Seasoned Flour:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Frying:

  • 3 cups peanut oil
  • 1 cup lard, optional, or replace with peanut oil

For Serving:

  • Hot sauce, optional
  1. Make the brine: Combine cola, salt, thyme, garlic and hot sauce in a large glass bowl and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the chicken thighs, cover and refrigerate 3 to 5 hours. (Longer will break down the meat.)
  2. Make the seasoned flour: In a wide, shallow bowl or pan, combine the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the peanut oil in a large heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a candy thermometer. While the oil heats, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. (I did this in batches.)
  4. Dredge the thighs in the flour and shake to remove excess.
  5. Working in batches of 2 or 3 at a time, carefully lower thighs with tongs into the hot oil. The oil temperature will plummet when the cold chicken goes into the pan; turn up the heat and carefully monitor the temperature. Cook for approximately 3 minutes on one side, 3 minutes on the other, and then a final 2 minutes on the first side. Remove to a wire rack over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
  6. The juices should run clear when the chicken is poked with a knife. If necessary, transfer the browned chicken to a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees on a instant-read thermometer. Serve hot or at room temperature with hot sauce, biscuits, and gravy, as desired.

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Pulse baking powder, salt, sugar, baking soda, and flour in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Mix in buttermilk with a fork, then gently knead just until a shaggy dough comes together.
  3. Pat out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1¼” thick. Cut out biscuits with a 3” biscuit cutter, rerolling scraps once.
  4. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes (on convection) or up to 30–35 minutes.

For the Milk Gravy:

  • 3 T fried chicken pan drippings
  • 2-3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 cups milk (I used 1 percent)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add pan drippings and flour. Whisk immediately. It should be smooth.
  2. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of milk. Cook until desired thickness is achieved- adding more milk if desired.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut biscuits in half and pour gravy over the top to serve.

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