I made THE best cake this past weekend. Well, at least one of the best (but I suppose that’s debatable because I think my entire family would argue that chocolate stout cake is actually the best cake). And I’m not ready to share it yet (let’s be honest, typing up that citrus bread recipe kind of took it out of me). But I am ready to share what happened after the cake, which was chicken soaked in buttermilk and baked in the oven low and slow, which mostly just relates to the cake because this is how I used my extra buttermilk from said cake. Which needs to happen on a regular basis because I am generally so terrible about letting perfectly good buttermilk go to waste after it has met its baking obligation.
I of course already have a favorite buttermilk chicken, made on the grill after so much soaking time. This is a riff on that, but cooked in the oven instead of on the grill, and done so slowly so that it is plenty tender and still juicy and gives the whole dish enough time to permeate your kitchen with the most delectable sweet perfumed smell. (I kept opening the oven to “peek” at the chicken, but really I just wanted to inhale that smell.)
Chicken and I are on speaking terms again, a huge improvement from a couple of months ago. We’re not exactly best friends again yet, though. But making chicken this way, so that the buttermilk soaks into the meat and gives it so much sweet tenderness, helps.
It is best to allow the chicken to soak in the buttermilk as much as possible. A full day or two is best; it will only get more tender the longer it goes. Don’t worry too much about precise measurements here; let this be more of a guide for a delicious way to make chicken in your oven: buttermilk, some sugar, a decent amount of salt, garlic, and pepper. And yes, the steps are as easy as they look. Let the chicken soak, and then bake it.
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons light (or dark) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Hot Sauce
- 4 bone-in, skin-on pieces of chicken (I prefer thighs and legs)
- In a large zip top plastic bag or a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, garlic, brown sugar, salt, a big pinch of pepper, and a couple of dashes (or more) of hot sauce. Add the chicken and turn to make sure that all the chicken pieces are coated. Refrigerate (cover the bowl if you’re using one) for 24-48 hours. (Less time will work, too, but it won’t be as good.)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken in a baking dish (lining it with foil helps with clean up later). Bake the chicken for 1 hour 30 minutes. If the skin starts to get too brown, you can tent the dish with foil. Serve warm or at room temperature.