January 27, 2011

Weeknight Family Dinner! Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken and Asparagus!

Buttermilk fried chicken, given a nice amount of heat courtesy of Texas Pete hot sauce, finished in the oven, and served with roasted asparagus spears- doesn't that sound like a great meal? It's easier than you think and you can whip it up on a weeknight! Our baby did eat the chicken, but not the asparagus. Although, he really surprised me last week- he ate broccoli rabe! I was so impressed! We are, though, having a bit of a throwing food problem, and when I said 'no' very firmly, he started laughing uncontrollably... probably not a great sign? It is hard to keep a straight face myself, though!

On to the fried chicken!

Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken
(serves roughly 2 adults with one little piece for baby, multiply as needed!)
1 lb. chicken (boneless, skinless breast meat)
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. hot sauce (like Texas Pete)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne (my cayenne is kind of old, so if yours is new, maybe half this?)

In a medium sized bowl, combine the buttermilk, hot sauce, salt and pepper, mix well. This is our marinade for our chicken! Take your chicken breasts, you'll most likely have two halves of a whole breast to make up roughly 1 lb., cut off the fat, and cut each breast half into 3-4 strips, the strips should be roughly 4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. Why do I cut the meat up like this? One of my favorite things about fried chicken is the crust and this will give you a greater crust to meat ratio... Did I have you at crust? Let's place our chicken in the buttermilk marinade, cover, and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Let's get our crust mixture ready! In a shallow pan or on a plate, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne. The cayenne I used for this has been on my spice shelf in the pantry for a good several years... So if yours is on the newer side, you may want to reduce the amount. Or maybe you like it really hot?

Roasted Asparagus
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

This could not be easier- really! Just take a shallow pan that's wide enough for the asparagus to be in one layer, rinse your asparagus, cut off the rough bottom (roughly 1-2" depending on the asparagus), place in the pan in one layer, top liberally with olive oil, sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper. That's it! And now we roast it in the oven with the final step of the chicken and they are done at the exact same time! Easy!

Preheat your oven to 375. Prepare a frying pan with some canola oil. Why are we using something different from olive oil? Olive oil is great, but it has a flavor that we aren't necessarily interested in including. Use a vegetable oil (like canola) that isn't strong in flavor. Place a rack on a baking sheet, this is what you'll use to finish the chicken in the oven. Using a fork, remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk mixture, pausing to allow the excess to drip off each piece. Place the chicken in the crust mixture, turning to coat evenly. Heat the oil over medium heat and fry each piece of chicken for 2 minutes on each side, the crust should be a light golden brown, but not too dark. If it's dark brown or black, your heat is too high and the crust will taste burned and bitter. Once each piece is cooked for 2 minutes on each side, place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet prepared with a rack.

Both the chicken and the asparagus go into the oven at the same time- bake for 15 minutes and your meal is ready! Enjoy!

Scratching your head wondering what to do with your leftover buttermilk? Make this! If you can't find goat milk, substitute whole milk. Yummy!!!


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