Tag Archives: buttermilk

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

It all started when my cousin here made a fairly innocuous request: to cook a meal that represents North Carolina.

Well, as we’ve previously established, I’m just a wannabe Southerner. I also have never attempted to make barbecue in either the eastern (vinegar-based) or western (tomato-based) North Carolinian fashion, which is the first meal option that sprung to mind. In the interest of leaving North Carolina barbecue to the professionals and maintaining my own sanity, I decided to broaden the scope of her request with a “Southern” meal. I also wanted to avoid the inevitable arguments that arise when you get too specific in identifying the origins of different foods. “Southern” seems like a safer distinction than “North Carolinian.”

When I found myself standing in a kitchen on Duke’s campus a few months ago, watching my food writing professor navigating her tongs over spattering oil and flour-drenched drumsticks, I established a genuine appreciation for an art form I originally associated with heat lamps and mushy biscuits. (Thanks, Bojangle’s.) Cooking fried chicken isn’t difficult, but there’s definitely a method to it.

For most of my childhood, I firmly believed that the crispy exterior of fried chicken was caused by something akin to corn flakes constituting the breading. We can attribute that belief to my mom’s attempts to make healthier fried chicken, which did, in fact, involve corn flakes and eschewed the stove in favor of the oven. The only fried food our kitchen ever saw was funnel cake. Once. We left it to the NC State Fair professionals after that.

One perfectly normal middle school day, I broke bread (er, fried chicken) with my friend Megan, and everything changed. Straight from her lunch box, the chicken was still miraculously crispy and required no accompaniment–it didn’t even need to be heated up. I think the foundation of our friendship was formed on that chicken. The first time I went to Megan’s house, her mom made me that chicken. I consumed my weight in that chicken. And then we stopped being friends (apparently even the best fried chicken cannot save a friendship, although it can extend one long past its expected expiration date), so my homemade fried chicken experiences waned once again.

When I finally learned how to make fried chicken from my professor, I watched very carefully for any sign of cornflakes (just in case) or other magical methods of crispiness-making. Instead, I saw a paste of buttermilk and flour transformed into a golden coat from which only joy and happiness can be derived. Oh, and chicken.

Last night was the first time I made fried chicken without adult supervision. Our meal also involved buttermilk biscuits, corn on the cob, salad (for good measure) and peach cobbler for dessert.

Based on the silent chewing that following the meal’s presentation, I can assume that the South was once again well-received by my German family.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken:
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds chicken (drumsticks and wings work best)
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
6 cups vegetable or rapeseed oil

1) Fill a large skillet with high sides (preferably cast iron) half full with vegetable oil. Set stove to high heat, but lower if the oil begins to smoke.
2) Fill one shallow bowl with buttermilk and the other with flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in buttermilk, then cover with flour thoroughly (the flour will act like a blanket that seals in moisture). Set aside onto a cookie sheet.
3) Place chicken pieces in skillet until the skillet is full. Brown chicken on both sides, then reduce heat. Cover the skillet and cook chicken on low heat for about 30 minutes. Then, increase heat again and fry until crispy.
4) Place chicken pieces on a plate covered in a paper towel. Keep chicken warm in the oven while frying the rest of the chicken.

Advertisements

Key Lime Cupcakes

Friends, it’s been a while.

I know, I know. My absence is absolutely inexcusable, especially when you consider most of the activities in which I’ve been partaking: watching three seasons of the U.K. version of Skins (such scandal!), shopping, running errands in preparation for Munich, running, baking for Share Our Strength and baking for my friends’ wedding. So much fodder for blog posts that I failed to write.

Actually, that last activity renders my absence entirely excusable. Baking cupcakes for a wedding is surprisingly time- and energy-consuming and, in the end, leaves one with a strong aversion to consuming cupcakes. So strong, in fact, that when I attended another wedding last night (two weddings in one weekend, which meant two evenings of doggedly dodging the bridal bouquet), I couldn’t fathom taking more than one bite of the luscious-looking red velvet cake. After baking 200+ cupcakes on Monday and frosting them Friday morning, my pores practically ooze butter. My cat has been especially devoted to me these past few days; I’m good for both a relaxing pet and a pleasant dairy aroma.

I would bake wedding cupcakes again, despite the overexposure to butter. What better way to show your engaged friends you care than to mass-produce baked delights for their friends and family? I baked love into every bite. For Dan and Casey, I made mint chocolate cupcakes, vanilla & chocolate cupcakes with Nutella filling and key lime cupcakes. As a key lime pie purist, I was initially skeptical about the latter. If I’m going to eat something with “key lime” in the title, I want that food to result in a graham cracker crust and cream cheese filling. Still, key lime pie is Dan’s favorite dessert, and I was not about to volunteer to make 75 key lime tarts in addition to 100 chocolate cupcakes. Everyone has a limit to his or her baking masochism, so key lime cupcakes it was.

Lesson learned. Key lime is acceptable in other forms on occasion. I got this key lime cupcake recipe from Bon Appetit and eliminated the green food dye since it was a little too St. Patrick’s Day for a wedding. I also intended to sprinkle more lime zest on top in lieu of sprinkles, but sometimes I’m a little too ambitious for my own good.

Case in point: I leave for Munich Wednesday evening. When I booked the flight, 20 days of prep time seemed ample. 17 days later, my to-do list should sufficiently fill every spare moment. The next meal I make will be in southern Germany rather than the southern U.S. Oy vey, eeek and yay!

Key Lime Cupcakes:
Makes 1 dozen
Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
3/4 cup buttermilk

Frosting
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Combine flours in medium bowl.
2) Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add lime juice and lime peel.
3) Add 1/3 of the flour, then add 1/2 the buttermilk. Add another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk. Add the remaining flour.
4) Fill each cupcake liner about 1/3 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan briefly, then remove.
5) For the frosting, combine all ingredients until smooth and spread or pipe over the cupcakes.

Banana Bread and a Desperate Plea

Apparently I’m not yet over the concept of breakfast week. Or, more accurately, the bananas that ripened all too quickly in my pantry wanted in on the early-morning action.

Speaking of action, this blog has been seeing a lot of it recently. If you’re new here, or even if you’re an old friend, I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me about yourself–why you’re here, what you like to eat, whether you live in the Triangle and want to be Real Life friends… let me know!

Pretty please?

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s. I added chocolate chips because there was no reason not to.

Banana Bread:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips, if desired

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9–inch loaf pan and set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl for several minutes, until fluffy. Add eggs and beat to combine.
2) In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir in nuts (and chocolate chips, if you want) and pour into prepared pan.
3) Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of bread cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then place on a rack to cool.

Chicken Pot Pie with Buttermilk Biscuits

This is Andrea. Andrea is my newest food model. (No meat dresses here, though. Sorry.)

At home, the logical next dinner following roast chicken is chicken pot pie. Mom’s orders. Who am I to question years of logical cooking? Leftover chicken practically begs to be combined with gravy and vegetables. Its lil’ carcass gets cold in the fridge, all lonely next to the unfriendly cranberry juice cocktail.

Also, roommate and I are collectively experiencing a cold that is single-handedly (virally?) keeping tissue and decongestant companies in business. So chicken pot pie is also the logical antidote, the ultimate in feel-good meals. (Aside from chicken noodle soup, which I’ll post about Tuesday.)

And, as I always enjoy a good food personification opportunity, sometimes it’s comforting to pretend that I am one of those buttermilk biscuits, steaming away in a bubbling mixture of Delicious Things. I’m quite certain that my recovery would be drastically expedited if I had a chicken pot pie hot tub. My birthday’s in a few weeks, FYI.

Chicken Pot Pie:
2 carrots
2 celery stalks, diced
2 C. peas
1 onion, diced
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 C. milk
2 C. chicken stock
2 C. cooked, cubed chicken
1 tsp parsley
salt & pepper

1) Heat chicken stock in medium sized pot. Add carrots, cook until a bit soft. Meanwhile, cook celery and onion with butter until softened. Sprinkle in flour.
2) Add celery and onion to pot. Stir in peas, add salt, pepper and parsley. Remove pot from heat.
3) Once the mixture has cooled slightly, stir in chicken and milk.
4) Pour into a deep-dish pie pan, making sure to leave room for biscuits to expand as they bake. Drop in biscuits (see recipe below) or top with pastry dough. Place pie pan on top of a cookie sheet, in case your pie pan runneth over. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
2 1/2 C. flour
1 1/2 TB sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
6 TB butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 C. & 2 TB buttermilk

1) Combine flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Rub in butter cubes with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
2) Add the buttermilk until a soft dough forms.
3) Place the dough on a floured work surface. Knead slightly and flatten until 1-inch thick. Cut out biscuits with round cookie cutter or with the opening of a jar. Combine remaining dough and cut additional biscuits.
4) Place biscuits on an ungreased round cake pan so they all touch slightly, or, if adding to pot pie, gently place biscuits on top of pot pie mixture. Follow directions above for baking.
5) Bake any solo biscuits at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Nothing gets my family out of bed faster than the smell of buttermilk pancakes puffing up on the stove. (Also true for roommates.) This particular recipe tastes like weekends should: light and easygoing, but a little bit indulgent. Like staying in bed snoozing for that extra hour on Saturday morning. Delicious accompanied with a dab of butter and a generous gulp of maple syrup, they also taste amazing peppered with blueberries or chocolate chips or pecans or… I love that this recipe helps me get rid of all the extra buttermilk I perpetually have in the fridge, but I’ve heard rumors that yogurt makes an equally yummy substitute.

One added benefit of these pancakes: they’re just a bit spongy, soaking up maple syrup on your plate and, once consumed, that last regrettable cocktail you had last night.

Buttermilk Pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 TB sugar
3/4 t baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
blueberries or chocolate chips or pecans, if desired

1) Whisk dry ingredients together.
2) In a separate bowl, blend butter and eggs, then add buttermilk and milk.
3) Add wet to dry and stir until well-combined.
4) Let batter rest 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, set a pan on medium heat.
5) Depending on pancake size preference, pour batter onto pan. Add blueberries or chocolate chips or pecans, etc.
6) When batter has been bubbling for about a minute, flip the pancake. Cook for another minute or two.
7) Eat with maple syrup. The real kind. I promise, it’s worth it.