I took a bit of an unplanned break from this space for a few days and I have a very valid reason. I was hit on the head with an anvil eureka moment, you see. It’s been a while since an idea impressed itself upon me with such force and clarity that I simply couldn’t ignore it. Far the past several days I have been writing in a different way, fiction actually. And it’s been so glorious to tell you the truth, having the words flow out of me with such tenacity. My greatest love and I are rekindling our romance.
But right now I’m taking a short break from that, turning my attention to something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while. A magic ingredient, if you will. It starts with a B and ends with a K, and no it’s not Bjork. She’s not even an ingredient. I know, you’re all probably rolling your eyes right now at the corniness of that “joke”, or maybe you’re rolling your eyes asking yourself what’s so special about buttermilk.
Well folks where I live, buttermilk in liquid form isn’t easily accessible. It’s available in powder form, and you can create the milk + vinegar/lemon juice solution at home, but I’ve been convinced for the longest time that nothing can equate to actual buttermilk. And after my first bottle, I’m feeling pretty convinced about my theory.
It was, like most of the surprise ingredients I have had the chance to bake/cook with for the blog, a completely unexpected turn of events. I was visiting the refurbished and rebranded All About Baking store in Quezon City (my new baking supply mecca) and there they were: a line of bottled liquid white gold. It was in the refrigerator alongside the butters and whipped creams. I contemplated getting two bottles, but I have learned that impulse buying ingredients is a good way to feel guilty about tossing away unused food. So I stuck with one bottle.
And boy, I really need to go back there.
What I love about buttermilk is that not only can you use it to achieve beautiful texture on your baked goods, it’s also such a great ingredient to use for cooking. Among the things I’m looking forward to trying with my next bottle of buttermilk is the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Just hearing the raves about that dish is enough to make my mouth water. But for now I’ll be sharing something a little more tamed in the form of Buttermilk Roasted Chicken, which is really great served with some of the best biscuits I have ever had the pleasure of eating!
Yep, two recipes are coming at you today. Can you tell I’m trying to make up for lost time here?
And since we’re already on the subject, let’s talk about the chicken first. This is a Nigella recipe so by definition it as an easy-peasy one. Throw in a bunch of ingredients in a ziplock bag with the chicken and you’re basically done. But I am pretty amazed by how the roast chicken turned out. Buttermilk has this tenderizing effect that makes the chicken super juicy and just tasty enough.
I think my roast chicken would’ve benefitted from some time with the broiler on to get that lovely brownish scorched look. It also could’ve benefitted from some crushed pepper flakes methinks. I would have liked a nice kick with my roast chicken. Then again, I like a nice kick on every thing I eat so it’s no surprise I’d be looking for that here.
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided use)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, bruised and skins removed
- 1 Tablespoon crushed peppercorns
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1. Place the chicken drumsticks in a large freezer bag. Add the buttermilk and 1/4 cup of oil.
- 2. Add the bruised garlic cloves to the bag with the crushed peppercorns and salt. Sprinkle in the ground cumin.
- 3. Finally, add the maple syrup, and then squish everything around in the freezer bag to mix. Make sure all the drumsticks are coated with the marinade.
- 4. Leave the chicken marinating in the fridge ideally overnight. It can also be left to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
- 5. When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
- 6. Take the chicken pieces out of the bag, allowing the excess marinade to drip off, and then arrange them in a roasting tin lined with foil.
- 7. Drizzle the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil, and then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until brown and juicily cooked through. For best results wait until the chicken is even scorched in parts. Serve with biscuits.
So what do you pair it with? Why these amazingly rich chive and buttermilk biscuits of course! By far the best biscuits I have ever eaten. By far the most photogenic too. Won’t you just look at all those flaky layers?
I keep experimenting on biscuits and scones here at home but for some reason they never ever rose high and proud and flaky until this recipe. I’m sure there was a problem with my technique before, but not being able to make biscuits that are as tall as the ones I’ve seen around the web has actually always been one of my secret frustrations. Yet these dared to change all that. They wanted to prove to me that I can actually whip up some darn good biscuits.
These biscuits are sooo addictive that I spent a good deal of lunch time nibbling on them. Their rich savouriness will make you reach out for seconds, especially if you are like me and have a soft spot for onion and chive flavoured things. And thanks to the buttermilk once again, these biscuits, while enveloped in a crunchy golden crust, is actually pretty darn fluffy inside.
Admittedly, biscuits and scones aren’t the most popular of foods in this house, but my sheer love for the rustic way that they look keeps me stubbornly making them. And as they say, perseverance reaps its rewards. It’s great that these biscuits came along when they did because they have helped me change several minds around here as well. Not after this will my brothers look down upon these flaky little critters and call them “bland” again.
Now who wants some biscuits? Say I!
Makes 8 to 12, depending on size of cutter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk (optional)
- 1 scant cup buttermilk, or as needed
- ¼ cup fresh chives, snipped
- 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- 2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together to blend. Add the cold pieces of butter into the dry ingredients.
- 3. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the largest butter pieces are the size of peas.
- 4. Place the egg and egg yolk (if using) in a liquid measuring cup. Add just enough buttermilk to measure one full cup. Whisk in the snipped chives.
- 5. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix together gently, just until the dough comes together and the dry ingredients are absorbed.
- 6. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and pat into a disc that is ½-inch thick. Use a well-floured 3 or 4-inch round biscuit cutter and cut out dough rounds. Place finished rounds on the prepared baking sheets. Gently re-roll the excess dough and cut out additional biscuits.
- 7. Bake biscuits until golden brown and fluffy, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
I can just imagine what the fried chicken version would be like. Looks like I’ll have to get to work on finding a biscuit pairing for that one as well!