What's For Dinner: Buttermilk Roast Chicken

The benefit of having a food blog is that it forces me to constantly try new things. Sure, chicken legs aren't a wild and crazy ingredient, but aside from when they've been attached to a whole chicken, I haven't cooked them before. (Which, okay, I'm (dear god) 35 -- shouldn't I have cooked chicken legs at least once in my life already?) Truth be told, meat with bones involved (particularly when you are supposed to eat it by hand) kind of skeeves me out. I think eating one too many barbecue ribs put me on the pathway to becoming a vegetarian in my previous foodie incarnation over a decade ago. That and ordering a Quarter-Chicken Platter at Aunt Catfish's while on vacation in Florida one winter -- seeing literally one quarter of a chicken (bones and all) on my plate sent me off the deep end. I'm pretty sure I didn't touch the thing. (I suppose that's what I get for ordering chicken at a restaurant known for its seafood.) Oh, sweet food memories.

But, I digress. Somewhere along the way I came across the idea of marinating chicken in buttermilk, and a quick recipe search led me to a post by Deb on Smitten Kitchen. I had also been eyeing a recipe posted by Nigella, which Deb had adapted for her post. The most important thing to know about this recipe is that you need to account for marination time in the buttermilk brine. Both Nigella and Deb suggest a minimum of two hours, but 24-48 hours is preferable. I roasted my chicken legs over two days, so the first batch had about an 18-hour marination, and the second set had about a 42-hour marination. Both batches were super-flavorful and moist as all get out. Once the chicken has marinated, cooking it couldn't be easier. Lining a baking dish with aluminum foil makes clean-up a breeze, too.

Also, no judgement if you opt to eat your chicken legs with a knife a fork. No judgement at all. :)

Buttermilk Roast Chicken (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings
Note: This recipe requires 2 to (preferably) 24 hours of brining time

2 cups buttermilk
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated raw sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (about 10) organic chicken legs
extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (for garnish)

1. Prepare the brine by whisking together the buttermilk, garlic cloves, salt, sugar, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Pour the marinade into a gallon-size plastic zippered bag. Add in the chicken legs and swish around the brine to evenly coat the meat. Remove any excess air from the bag and zipper it tightly closed. Place the bag on a plate and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours.
3. On day two (or three), preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
4. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil. (I cooked my legs in two batches, so I used an 8" square baking dish.) Place the chicken legs in the baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and coarse sea salt.
5. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the interior temperature reaches 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

(adapted from this Smitten Kitchen recipe)


  1. Legs are my second favorite part of the chicken (after thighs). I regularly buy just the legs, especially for grilling. I love that we both posted the same thing. this week. GREG


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