There are a couple of television celebrity cooks … chefs… people out there that I simply adore. We share the same mindset in cooking, and I find that refreshing in what’s becoming an overcrowded attack on the senses. I think Laura Caulder is sublime – I love her simple, carefree attitude with cooking and her unfettered approach to French food. Nigella Lawson.. is a goddess. She cooks what she wants, eats what she wants, and damn the naysayers. I’d pull up a chair to her table any day.
It’s funny… I post my personal recipes across several different platforms on the web, professional and not – so professional. Some I lay claim to.. If I’m pushed for a deadline and I throw something together… you probably wont see my name on it.
But when I do, often times people will write, tell me they tried a recipe, and either say how well they liked it (occasionally) or that they didn’t care for it so much (more often than you would like to think). But then there was a reader in Oklahoma that wrote to tell me that “… her family absolutely (explicit removed) loved it and ate it all up!”.. and then went on to tell me she didn’t use pork, and she didn’t like the peppercorns so she used Montreal Seasoning, and she didn’t have any chicken stock but she had a can of cream of chicken soup… .. .
I’m sure it was probably very good; her family seemed to enjoy it. And I do thank her for telling me she tried it… but, It really wasn’t my recipe. Part of me was puffed because she had utilized one of my creations, but I was also a little hurt because they changed the recipe… but that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it? All of us writers out here, in our varied communities, are simply giving other people the inspiration and the courage to go into that room that you just spent $50k renovating and do something more than heating up a pizza in the microwave.
Which brings me back to my opening foot kissing. While I do find these two women kindred spirits, it doesn’t mean I love everything they do. Spice blends and flavorings are a pretty personal thing, and no one really shares your own penchant for piquancy. So, It’s no real secret by now that I play around with almost every recipe I use from someone else.
I came across Nigella’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken several months ago while I was thumbing through her Nigella Express book. And although I was intrigued…. it just didn’t sing off the pages, for a couple of reasons:
1). I liked the buttermilk marinade, but it was going to come off a bit bland for me because I don’t do maple in anything savory. Personally, it’s gag inducing…. but that’s just me – I know.
2). She only works with the legs and I typically work with a whole chicken. (it’s more economical for me to buy a whole carcass, butcher it down and use the scraps, bones, giblets in other areas.)
3). I thought the marinade time was on the slight side… even for dark meat. So I needed to adjust the marinade time to accommodate both types of meat to provide ample butter-milky goodness to permeate the muscles.
My intention was to use that recipe for the Cookbook Sundays group…. but by the time I monkeyed around with the recipe to my satisfaction – it bore very little resemblance to the original… other than that there was chicken.. and buttermilk.
So, here now is my take on Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken…
… I don’t think she would mind
Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
1 Whole Chicken – butchered into 10 pieces. (you can find the how-to for it HERE)
2 Cups Buttermilk
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Tablespoon Shortening
2 Cloves Garlic – Crushed
1 Tablespoon Pink Peppercorns
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Packed Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
1 Large Zipper Bag
Large Cast Iron Skillet (big enough to hold 10 pieces of chicken)
- Butcher the chicken – Remove the backbone, tip the wings, and cut the rest to make 2 short breasts, 2 wishbones, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 drumsticks (We’re cutting into 10 because I want the breasts smaller so they will cook at the same time as the rest of the pan. Creating the wishbone cut also give you the added bonus of 2 extra juicy pieces of white.)
- Place the chicken in the bag
- Add to the bag – Buttermilk, garlic, poultry seasoning, peppercorns, cumin, salt and brown sugar
- Seal the bag and squitch all the pieces around in the milk to make sure everything is blended and well coated
- Place in the fridge for 2 DAYS, turn the bag over a couple of times a day… if you remember
- Place the skillet in the oven and Preheat the oven to 450
- When the pan and oven are screaming hot, add the shortening to the pan and let melt
- Open the bag and shake the marinade from the chicken pieces and place skin side up in the hot fat
- Drizzle the remaining oil over the tops of the placed pieces
- Fish out the crushed garlic and add to the pan
- Roast uncovered at 450 for 30 minutes… or until the skin is brown and bubbled
- Remove, top with the parsley, and serve immediately with a boatload of napkins. (The chicken is also great at room temperature for a picnic, or even chilled for a late night snack)
You can find Nigella’s original recipe HERE