Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken

I’m sure we can all agree that the circumstances surrounding this holiday are less than ideal. It’s challenging for families to come together, connect, and share food due to travel limitations. It seems most folks are celebrating on a smaller scale than usual, reducing their menu for the day if they’re even observing the holiday at all–at least, this is what I’ve observed on my food-saturated social media feed. If you, too, are cooking for two, or four, or even just yourself–you may consider a roast chicken as your centerpiece rather than larger fowl. Of all the chickens I have ever roasted in my life (and I love roast chicken!) Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk roast chicken is the juiciest, most chicken-y roast chicken I have ever had the sublime pleasure of sinking my teeth into.

It really is about quality of ingredients because there are so few: take care to use a fine grain salt, like sea salt or kosher salt, good buttermilk with few additives (or make your own, like I do!) and a chicken that you can wager, with reasonable certainty, lived a good life. I don’t know if it’s all in my head, but I feel pretty certain that one can taste the difference in quality meat.

If you treat this recipe with the respect it deserves by investing in quality ingredients, you will be rewarded with beautiful results. For me, this was a life-changing, eureka moment, holy-smokes-this-is-it recipe for roast chicken. (You should probably buy yourself a copy of Salt Fat Acid Heat if you haven’t already.)

Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken

I like to keep the ingredients fairly simple in accordance with the original recipe. The lemon, herbs, and half an onion featured are optional, but delicious, additions.

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this chicken marinated for two days in the fridge, though Samin recommends 24 hours. I have found that two days does not negatively impact the chicken at all by drying it out w salt exposure–in fact, two days is kind of my sweet spot for this recipe, taking care to rotate the chicken every 8-12 hours, or whenever it crosses my mind: whichever comes first.

After I drained the chicken of buttermilk, I tucked the thyme under the skin near the breast meat, and stuffed the cavity with half of a small onion, a small bundle of sage, and a squeezed lemon half. The legs get tied together with twine.

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samin instructs us to remove excess buttermilk from the skin by “scraping it off”; I have never found this to be a necessary step. if you hold the chicken so the cavity is facing over the sink or garbage can and wait patiently for a few seconds, the extra moisture should wick away. any remaining milk solids contributed to that delicious, delicious browning on the skin–and tell me, why would one want to prevent this from happening??

The first time I tried this recipe, I was slightly daunted by the recipe’s–shall we say, specific–roasting instructions. However, I followed them to a T and, I have to say the results made a believer out of me. Just try it. It will work. Trust me. (If you can’t trust me, trust Samin.)

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i removed the chicken as soon as the drumstick juices ran clear and the breast meat clocked in at 155°F–for best browning results, use a shallow cast iron to house your chicken.

After you pick clean the carcass with the most delicious chicken you’ve had, maybe ever, save the bones/carcass to make stock. It’s soup season, after all…

Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Aromatics

Based on Samin Nosrat's recipe in NYT Cooking.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, keto, paleo, traditional

Equipment

  • cast iron skillet

Ingredients
  

  • 1 4 lb chicken, preferably organic
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • fine grain salt
  • 1/2 onion, peeled, optional
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced into the cavity and shoved inside, optional
  • fresh sage, optional
  • fresh thyme, optional

Instructions
 

  • One to two days before you cook the chicken, generously season it with salt, and rub into the skin. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Do not be shocked if you go through 2-3 Tablespoons, bearing in mind what is not absorbed by the bird initially will dissolve into the buttermilk as it marinates.
  • If using any aromatics like fresh herbs, onion, lemon, garlic, etc, tuck under the skin or in the cavity of the chicken now.
  • Place chicken into a large zip top bag and seal the buttermilk inside. Place in the fridge for 24-48 hours, turning the bag whenever you remember; ideally this is every 8-12 hours.
  • An hour and 15 minutes before you plan to cook the chicken, remove it from the fridge to thaw. After an hour has passed, preheat the oven to 425°F and take care your rack is centered in your oven.
  • Drain the chicken of the buttermilk over a sink or garbage can. When the chicken is completely drained, place it in a shallow cast iron pan. Slide the cast iron to the very back of the stove and into one corner of the oven, so that legs are pointing in the corner. Bake this way for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes has passed, reduced oven heat to 400°F, and continue roasting 10 more minutes. Then, rotate chicken so that it is in the other backmost corner, with legs facing in the opposite corner. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is a beautiful brown on top, juices pricked from where the drumstick meets the carcass run clear, or until the breast meat clocks in at 155°F-165°F.
  • If chicken is getting too crispy as you wait for it to reach temperature, feel free to cover the top with foil.
  • Let bird rest for 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy.
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No Fuss “Green Goddess” Salad Dressing

I don’t know about you, but as the seasons slowly develop into the colder months, I crave fresh foods from spring and summer all the more. This isn’t to say I don’t love the indulgences of the holiday season…but the snap of a freshly picked pea can be the sweetest memory in the depths of winter. As we enter the season of indulgence, I humbly present to you a vibrant, springlike boost of vitality: Green Goddess salad dressing.

In the same way that dried flowers can hold their charm for years if treated properly, preserved foods are decidedly delicious–but they will always be just that: preserved.

I have learned to compensate for this fact by throwing in fresh herbs wherever I can. Not only does this taste delicious and feel wholesome and healthy, but I can also grow herbs inside by the window regardless of the time of year. This way I don’t feel like I’m cheating too much about the whole “seasonal eating” thing, not that I’m prepared to crucify myself by keeping kosher with an exclusively biodynamic diet. I am an intuitive eater, after all. Sometimes you just want an orange, carbon footprint be damned.

This dressing is a great way to pack in a lot of the freshness and flavor and make your vegetables a little more exciting. Heck, you can even use it as a marinade for grilled chicken skewers, spread it on a sandwich in lieu of mayonnaise, or use it as a dipping sauce for chicken wings. To say that I am obsessed with this recipe would be an understatement. I probably make a batch of it once a month, and mix it up based on whatever herbs I have on hand, especially if I’ve got some that have been wilting in the fridge and need to be used up, stat.

Fresh Green Goddess Salad Dressing

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i used parsley, dill, and cilantro for this batch; i find that parsley and cilantro are always a must, but i’ve substituted basil, chives, and even mint or added them in addition to dill

Part of the beauty of this recipe is the simplicity of the process: everything goes in a blender or food processor and gets blitzed until it’s of a cohesive texture.

BEFORE:

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i add stems and all, because they hold a lot of great flavor–but there are probably some purists out there who might insist that you add only tender leaves. i have found, personally, that the stems do not noticeably impact the overall quality of the dressing in a negative way.

AFTER:

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i had about 2 cups of dressing when all was said and done

This will keep for several weeks in the fridge and still taste great–but I dished myself up a bowl immediately…

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the new york times recommends making all all-green salad to pair with this dressing: green apple, fennel, cucumber, celery, etc. here i am, breaking the rules with the addition of carrot…(for those who are interested, in spring and summer, calendulas would make a lovely addition to this delightfully monochrome dish)

No Fuss “Green Goddess” Recipe

Adapted from Samin Nosrat's recipe in the New York Times.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Healthy, Intuitive, Seasonal

Equipment

  • blender or food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup whole fat yogurt
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 15 grams fresh dill, about 1/2 bunch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until a homogenous mixture forms.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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Triple Decker Chocolate Cake

…seems simple enough, right? Well, with the help of Samin Nosrat, I’m getting a little more curious about the science behind what makes delicious cake just that. What better way to practice our cake-perfecting game than this recipe for triple decker chocolate cake?

Whether from a box or from scratch, it’s safe to say most households have made a chocolate cake at least once. Nosrat points out in “Salt Fat Acid Heat” that even boxed cake mixes call for some kind of oil rather than butter. Why might this be, you ask?

According to Nosrat, oil more evenly coats flour particles in comparison to butter. This inhibits gluten development which encourages a more tender, moist crumb. This does, in turn, create a cake that is a little denser when compared to butter’s capacity for aeration.

For a classic chocolate cake, I’ll happily take a dense, moist crumb and save the fluffy stuff for another time. And when I found this recipe for a three-layer chocolate cake made with oil, I knew I was in for a decadent treat.

Triple Decker Chocolate Cake Recipe

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i chose to use canola oil for this cake, but vegetable oil or some other neutral oil would work well too

This cake baking endeavor posed an excellent opportunity to test out my new cake strips, which you can see pictured above as the thick, purple strips of fabric.

If you don’t know what cake strips are, you aren’t alone! I only learned of them recently. The idea is simple: buffer the heat between the temperature of the oven and the outermost ring of cake batter in order to more evenly heat the cake as it bakes. This makes for a more homogenous rise across the surface of the cake, which prevents doming.

To test this, I used two cake strips on two cake pans, and baked the third without.

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about 3 cups of batter went into each cake pan

Are Cake Strips Worth It?

Here’s an aerial shot of both the independent variable (no cake strips) and dependent variable (with cake strips).

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can you tell the difference? (l: no cake strips; r: cake strips)

Here you can see the dome from the layer baked without strips:

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dennnng, check out that dome

Versus a close up of a layer baked with the strips:

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in the background is the hump of the layer baked w/o strips–but you can see the outer rim of the cake pan, unique to those layers baked with the strips

The overall height of the layers of cake strips versus no cake strips was different as well, even though each layer roughly had three cups of batter prior to baking.

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no cake strips–dense, tight crumb at the edges
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with cake strips–fluffier crumb throughout

What do you think?

I have to admit, I am a new cake strips convert. You can purchase them here, if you are moved by this testimony. (And no, they are not paying me to say this! 🙂

After the exciting reveal of the cake strip experiment, I whipped up some buttercream frosting and layered my cake.

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dark chocolate shavings make everything better

I was good and waited until after dinner to dig into this cake…we’ll see if I can follow suit tomorrow!

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a thin layer of frosting on the bottommost layer prevents the cake from sliding away from center on the cake plate, which is helpful if your cake is destined to travel places

Yum!

Triple Decker Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Generously serves 12

Cake

  • Butter and all-purpose flour for coating the cake pans
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 ¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ c buttermilk
  • 1 ½ c near-boiling water
  • ½ c canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three nine-inch cake rounds and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. If using, soak cake strips for 5 minutes and apply to the exterior of the cake pans without ringing out the water. 

Slowly mix dry ingredients in a stand mixer until combined.

Add wet ingredients and beat for two minutes on medium speed, until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly into the three cake pans, just over three cups worth.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool for 20 minutes before running a knife around the outer edge of the cake and inverting each layer onto a wire cooling rack. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  • 1 ½ c butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 3.5-4.5 c powdered sugar (taste as you go and make it as sweet as you like!)
  • ¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbs heavy cream or whole milk
  • Dark chocolate bar for shaving on top

Beat softened butter with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy. 

Add vanilla, cream, and cocoa powder and mix until incorporated. Add powdered sugar in increments, tasting as you go, until frosting is of desired sweetness. Frost in between each layer, the top of the cake, and the sides. 

Shave dark chocolate using a vegetable peeler on top of the freshly-frosted cake. Keeps well plastic wrapped at room temperature or tightly sealed in the fridge. Serve with a glass of your milk of choice.

Chicken and Dumplings (Based on Alison Roman’s Recipe)

Well, the rain is back. It feels right, really. Like, the only thing that’s made sense so far this year is the return of the grey skies and precipitation to this PNW town. (Aw, man. I hope I didn’t jinx it–after all, it’s only September…) I ponder this as I sip my spicy chai and munch on a slice of sourdough layered with ricotta cheese and homemade concord grape/serrano pepper preserves. It’s good to have a roof over my head. It’s even better to have whole milk cheese and spicy grape jelly. It’s comfort food season, and for me, that means chicken and dumplings.

I’d never made chicken and dumplings before this year–in fact, had never tasted it–but I saw Alison Roman’s recipe with the New York Times and had to give it a try.

I was reminded of Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon as I scraped browned bits of meat from the bottom of my Dutch oven and wondered briefly if this humble American staple perhaps had French roots.

A Google search informed me it’s accredited to the southern United States and gained notoriety during the Great Depression. It kinda makes sense. The chicken is cooked in such a way that the meat falls off the bone, so it’s easy to use whatever animal scraps are on hand; and the hearty, flour-rich broth and steamed dumplings make for a cheap, filling meal. Plus, it’s actually a very satisfying bowl of stew, if I can call it that. It’s kind of its own thing. You’ll just have to make it for yourself and see.

Chicken and Dumplings (Based on Alison Roman’s Recipe)

I happened to have a whole chicken from my foray into the local farmer’s market this past weekend; thus began the adventure of “butchering” my own bird into recognizable pieces.

I watched a slew of instructional Youtube videos and channeled my inner Julia Child as I held my knife to where the leg meets the rest of the bird, daring it to challenge me.

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Turns out, it’s actually kinda fun. Carving out two thighs, two drumsticks, two wings, and two breasts rewards you not only with the palatable meat, but the carcass (perfect for making stock!!) which I immediately sealed in a ziplock back and placed in the freezer.

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stock gold!!

I don’t know if it was the crunching of bones or the smell of raw meat, but both animals hovered around me as I cut.

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Internet, meet Gus!

After carving the bird and seasoning the pieces with salt and pepper, I gathered the necessary ingredients to make the quick stock.

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it’s a simple stock, really–but the flavor is so special because of the simplicity of the ingredients

Well, I should add everything here is organic, mostly local, and free range–I am referring, of course, to the thyme! (Stand down, Chris D’Elia. This girl’s got jokes!)

I can feel your eye rolls from here, so I’ll carry on to the meat browning in my beloved Le Creuset!

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mmm, dark meat <3

Then, drain the fat into a liquid measuring cup and set the seared meat on a plate with a paper towel.

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Any Type A folx driven crazy by this photo??

Then, add celery, onion, and half the carrots. Cook for a few minutes, then add water, thyme, and seared meat. Not to worry–those brown crusty bits end up coating the veggies as they release moisture during the cooking process. Mmmmm!

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Yep, hard to go wrong with these ingredients.

This gets cooked at a simmer for a little over a half an hour, or until the liquid has reduced by 1/4. Then it’s time to make and add the dumplings!

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she’s not much to look at now, but she cleans up reaaaaal good

Once you dollop the dumpling dough into the broth, it’s time to cover and steam for about 20 minutes! Check a dumpling by cutting it in half to make sure it’s cooked through all the way–and boom! You just made chicken and dumplings! 🙂

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add fresh herbs to garnish. parsley is usually a good idea.

Chicken and Dumplings

Adapted from Alison Roman’s NYT recipe

Chicken 

  • 1.5-2 lbs skin-on chicken on the bone, preferably thighs or other dark meat
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 celery stocks, chopped
  • 6 medium or 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch slices
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs butter (add more as needed)
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Dumplings and Presentation

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, or 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar added to milk of your choice, equaling ¾ cup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbs melted butter (I used salted)
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Season chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Heat canola oil in a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven (I used Le Creuset) and place the chicken skin side down in the oil. Cook about 8 minutes, or until chicken skin appears golden brown and fat is rendered from the meat. Flip and cook another 5 minutes or so. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a plate with a paper towel, and pour the rendered fat into a liquid measuring cup or bowl. Ideally, you will have 5 Tbs total. If your chicken was not so fatty, add the necessary amount of canola oil to make 5 Tbs.

Return 2 Tbs of fat to the pot and add onions, celery, and half of the carrots. (Don’t worry about the browned bits on the bottom of the pot—as the vegetables cook and release water, any chicken “crusties” will dissolve and their wonderful flavor will be incorporated!) Season vegetables with salt and freshly cracked pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pot with thyme and 8 cups of water. Simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about ¼, about 35 minutes.

Pull chicken from the pot and transfer to a plate with a fresh paper towel. Strain the stock with a colander over a bowl and throw the vegetables and thyme sprigs out; you should have about 5 cups of liquid. Wipe out the Dutch oven, if you feel so inclined.

Heat the last 3 Tbs of chicken fat with 1 Tbs of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in chicken stock and bring to a boil, being careful to work out lumps. Add remaining carrots and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Lower heat to a simmer as you pull apart the chicken meat from the bones. Cook and stir until the mixture is thickened and the carrots are tender, around 10 minutes.

As this mixture is thickening, make the dumplings. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Mix buttermilk and beaten egg together, and add to the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Mix until just incorporated with a rubber spatula, being careful not to over mix. (Being careful to gently mix during this time makes for tender dumplings!)

Dollop the dumpling dough into the hot liquid in a heaping tablespoon, taking care to give the edges an opportunity to make contact with the broth and absorb the flavor. When all of the dough has been placed into the pot, cover and cook for 18 minutes, or until a sacrificial dumpling is fluffy and cooked all the way through when cut in half. Scoop your chicken and dumplings into a bowl and enjoy with chopped parsley or the herb of your choice.