Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roasted Buttermilk-Chicken with Pancetta and Chives

Buttermilk provides a tangy, slightly sour brine for chicken breasts, penetrating the meat to add juicy tenderness throughout cooking. For this recipe, I blended the buttermilk with regular milk and a little smoked paprika to create a rich, tenderizing marinade for the bone-in breasts. 

The most important ingredient here is time. Submerge the chicken into the milk brine and allow it to refrigerate overnight (a full 24 hours is even better). When the chicken has marinated, place it on a wire rack over a shallow baking pan to allow most of the brine to drip off. Pat any remainder dry just before roasting.

Note: I cannot stress enough the wonderful tenderness of the meat after marinating 24 hours in the milk mixture. Chicken breasts are naturally lean and can dry out quickly under high heat. But bone-in breasts need extra time to cook, and that's no problem—the milk marinade sees to that.

I topped the chicken breasts with chopped pancetta for a delicious bacon flavor that complements the tangy creaminess of the buttermilk—and provides a little crisp-tender texture too. The pancetta also provides moisture during roasting as it releases a bit of fat over the chicken breasts.

Finally, the chives: They’re more than garnish. A mild oniony flavor finishes the dish with the right amount of savory balance that’s simply sprinkled on at the end.

Fresh Chives
Tip: Some bone-in chicken breasts have an ample amount of small rib bones attached. Use kitchen shears to trim those away and make it easier to submerge the chicken into the brine (better presentation too):

Serves 4

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 7- to 8-oz bone-in chicken breast halves, skin removed, ribs trimmed
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
Chopped Pancetta
  1. Whisk the buttermilk, milk, and paprika in a very large bowl. Add the chicken breasts and turn several times to coat, submerging completely. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight (and up to 24 hours).
  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan. Let stand 30 minutes. (Line the pan with foil for easier cleanup.) 
Milk-Paprika Mixture
Submerge the Chicken
Marinated Chicken Breasts
  1. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F. Line another shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Pat any excess brine from the chicken and place in the baking pan. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the chopped pancetta evenly on top.
  3. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the pancetta is crisp, 35-40 minutes, depending on size.
Chicken Breasts Ready to Roast
Roasted Chicken and Pancetta
Transfer the chicken and pancetta to a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Roasted Buttermilk-Chicken with Pancetta and Chives

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