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Weeknight Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

February 6, 2012

I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that I read a lot of food blogs. I love to get inspiration for this blog, see how people take pictures of their food, and –most importantly– learn new recipes. I read a lot of posts entitled “Weeknight Meal.” These posts are, theoretically, meals to be made on a weeknight when one has less time to cook. I don’t know what kind of weeknights most people have, but they are clearly not like the weeknights we have at casa Smith-Cabarcas. So many of these allegedly weeknight meals have ingredient lists a mile long, cooktimes of an hour or more, and (gasp!) require a lot of dishes to wash. Even a certain chipper woman’s “30 Minute Meals”sometimes fail my test for a weeknight meal as the 30 minutes she refers to are not 30 actual minutes, but rather 30 “If you have a prep kitchen and know where everything is in your pantry at all times and can chop like a chef”‘ minutes. My criteria for a weeknight meal includes the following:

1. Must take no more than an hour total time from start to table with less than 20 minutes of “hands on” time.

2. Must use less than 10 total ingredients (including staples such as oil, salt, garlic, etc.)

3. Must not require babysitting or finicky preparation in any way.

4. Maximum amount of chopping allowed: one onion.

I’m serious about these things because our weeknights are crazy busy, running from work to meetings to soccer games, back to work, putting the baby to bed… Even if I have a miraculously uncluttered weeknight, I don’t usually choose to spend it cooking as much as I choose to spend it sleeping or curled up in front of the boob tube watching other people cook on Top Chef.

I think you know where I’m going with this mini-rant. This is actually a weeknight meal, meeting (or surpassing) every one of the Traci criteria with the caveat that the chicken must marinate for a day before it is cooked. I can live with that, because once that is done, there is less than 5 minutes of hands on preparation time on the day of serving. I can make up this marinade the night before and roast it up the following day for dinner, serving it with something very easy. Voila! Weeknight cheffery.

In addition to the wonderful weeknight qualities, this recipe has another one of my favorite qualities: budget! What’s not to love?

Finally, it’s delicious. The buttermilk and long marinating time makes the chicken tender and flavorful, and the paprika gives it an added yum factor. Elias had a wonderful comment… he said “You know, chicken is the hardest meat to have a good flavor for, and this has good flavor.” Sold.  Buen Provecho

Weeknight Buttermilk Roasted Chicken adapted from Smitten Kitchen


2 cups buttermilk

5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (or equivalent. I am a fan of the chopped, jarred garlic, and it worked fine, just make sure there’s none sticking to the chicken when you get to the roasting stage)

1 T salt + a touch more to finish at the end

1 and 1/2 tsp. paprika + more for sprinkling at the end

1 T sugar

approximately 3 pounds of chicken pieces bone in/skin on

olive oil

1 tsp black pepper (or more to taste)


1. Combine buttermilk, garlic, salt, sugar and paprika in a lidded bowl. Stir in chicken to combine. (Alternatively, combine ingredients in a bowl, and then transfer to a large zip top bag before adding chicken).

2. Refrigerate mixture for 24 – 48 hours, making sure all chicken parts are covered with the buttermilk mixture.

3. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 425 degrees.

4. Line a baking dish with foil (or not, but in the spirit of the weekday meal, I say this step is essential for clean up!). Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and arrange in the dish (If you used chopped garlic, be sure to make sure there is none sticking to the chicken).

5. Drizzle chicken pieces lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and a small amount of salt. Roast until brown and scorched in spots and until a meat thermometer reveals an internal temperature of 170 degrees. (About 30-35 minutes for legs, 35-45 for breasts)


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