Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Farewell Heirloom Tomato Salad
Ah, Nigella Lawson... how I love thee.
I broke down again, dear readers. A few clicks of the mouse and another book is on its way to me - and not any cookbook but THE Nigella Express book I verbally thrashed a year ago, for fear she was compromising her integrity and getting into bed with the likes of Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee. Anyway, here's how it happened...
I had another insane workweek involving takeout every night (I actually ate a turkey burger 3 nights in a row from the same place.) Needless to say, by the weekend I was dying to cook but my energy level didn't sink up with my will to do so. Cut to me searching for something easy to fix...but good.
The recipe I decided to try was Nigella's Buttermilk Roast Chicken (from her Express book), and it is slap-your-mama-good. I only made two changes - subbing bone in chicken breasts for thighs and adding a bay leaf to the brining mixture. After roasting, the chicken looked gorgeous (in the final stages, I actually watched the skin bubble and crack through my oven window, giggling like a madman every time it turned a deeper shade of bronze.) But what truly made it deadly was an heirloom tomato salad I served alongside it (don't ask me where these luscious, groovily colored heirlooms came from this late in the season, but I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.)
I tossed the tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, and olive oil together, then spooned them all around the warm chicken, in a sort of deconstructed chicken salad. The heat from the chicken washed over everything, warming the tomatoes and basil through, making the whole kitchen smell like summer.
Needless to say, after finishing the meal, I realized I was going to have blog about the damned chicken. And buy Nigella's book.
Buttermilk Brined Chicken with Farewell Heirloom Tomato Salad
2 bon- in, skin on chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large pinch kosher salt, or smaller pinch table salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Place the chicken buttermilk, 1/4 cup of oil, garlic, pepper, salt, cumin, maple syrup, cumin and bay leaf into a large freezer bag, squishing everything around to mix. Add the chicken and roll around to make sure every nook and cranny is anointed, then place in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the chicken pieces out of the bag shaking off the excess marinade, and then arrange them in a roasting tin lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Drizzle over the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil and the lightest sprinkling of salt, then roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 and roast another 30 minutes (20-25 if you're using small breasts - the ones I had were epic in size), then crank the heat up again and move to the top tray of your oven for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, watching carefully while you get the skin crispy and golden (at this point, you will also notice clear chooses running from the meat into the pan, signaling they're cooked through.)
Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving...giving you plenty of time to make:
Farewell Heirloom Tomato Salad:
l large, plump, ripe and fun to squeeze Heirloom tomato
1 handful basil leaves, rinsed and roughly torn
Heaving tablespoon of goat cheese, to crumble in
Tiny pinch sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Generous drizzle of olive oil
Gently slice your tomato into fat wedges and drop into a medium bowl. Add the basil and rest of the ingredients, giving a gentle toss to combine. Serve next to something warm, preferably the above roast chicken.