Yeah, that sounds like a pretty crazy combination, doesn’t it?
I have a couple of clients who are do lots of cooking from scratch and I get ideas from them and share ideas with them.
I don’t even remember how it came up, but one of my clients told me about the southern way of making friend chicken. You soak the chicken overnight in buttermilk.
I did one of those “What chew talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” I’ve never heard of that. I’ve heard of buttermilk before, obviously, but aside from it somehow being used in pancakes, I knew nothing about it. Like… what is it?
Buttermilk is “the more or less acidulous liquid remaining after butter has been separated from milk or cream.” When chicken soaks in buttermilk, the buttermilk breaks down the cell walls of the chicken, increasing tenderness.
So I figured, if the cell walls are being broken down, if I spice the buttermilk, the spices will infuse the chicken. And right around thanksgiving, the right spices to my mind were a chai chicken.
And since it is fall, some hearty root vegetables complete this dish.
In the past, I’ve done plenty of carrots, potatoes and beets, but I wanted to try something different. Can you name all the vegetables in that bowl?
Obviously you’ve got the carrots, the onion and the potatoes.
The new kids are: purple top turnip on the top left and rutabaga on the right, neither of which I’ve ever cooked with before.
And I’ll be totally honest, after the dish was done, I don’t know which is which! haha All I know is they’re both really delicious. And I actually didn’t wind up using the potatoes. But now I have extra potatoes for later.
An overnight soak gets the chai chicken ready to slow roast.
I used the tea from 6 bags of organic chai tea. That amounts to about 2 tablespoons of spice. Stir it well into the buttermilk, put the chicken in the buttermilk, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
When it’s time to cook, prepare the vegetables. Peel them and cut them into big hearty chunks. No time for daintiness here.
Once again I go with my “put the vegetables and seasoning into a big bowl, cover and shake” method to evenly spread the thyme, pepper and oil.
Take the chicken out of the fridge and use a strainer to get rid of the excess buttermilk. DO NOT rinse the chicken. You want to keep the buttermilk for the cooking process.
I put some of the vegetables into the cavity of the chicken, then laid a layer down for the chicken to sit on, the poured the rest around the chicken.
Put a lid on it, set your crock pot to LOW and your timer for 4 hours, 45 minutes. You don’t want to over cook it, the vegetables will be mush. But it’s chicken so you do want to cook it thoroughly. When it’s done, the meat slides off the bones.
And if you’re wondering “Hey, do I see giblets in there?” the answer is “YES!” Eat ’em! They’re good for you. Don’t waste.