Monday dinner: Buttermilk chicken with peach-tomato salsa

Read any “authentic” southern fried chicken recipe and buttermilk is on the ingredient list. It adds the tangy bite to the otherwise bland meat and keeps it nice and moist when fried. Of course, fried chicken is no good for you and its consumption is apparently fatal. As I scan recipes on the landscape to try for this blog, I’ve run across more than one for grilled or roasted buttermilk chicken. Supposedly it brings all of the flavor without the grease.

The underpinning of the recipe is an overnight buttermilk bath for the chicken breasts. I would recommend piercing the chicken with a fork to absorb as much of the buttermilk as possible. I might also add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar to the buttermilk and double the salt for a richer flavor. Also CHOW, which published the original recipe, suggests using a grill pan. I opted for my GE Advantium oven (nine minutes for two cooked chicken breasts). I might try this on the grill at some point.

The end result was fine, though the accompanying peach-tomato salsa did not add much to the dish. Maybe it was the lack of fresh peaches, but I would have rather had this with barbecue sauce or some bleu cheese. The salsa…it was just too much.

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Buttermilk chicken with peach-tomato salsa

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the pan
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (about 3 ounces), toasted, for garnish

Whisk together the measured olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, and salt in a large, shallow, nonreactive dish. While whisking, pour in the buttermilk and mix well. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat in the marinade; cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

To make the chicken, heat a grill pan over medium heat and lightly brush it with olive oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, let any excess drip off, and place the breasts in the grill pan (you may have to do this in batches). Cook until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes per side.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the heat, top with the salsa and toasted pecans, and serve.

Peach, tomato and sweet onion salsa

  • 3 medium peaches, small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui, small dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, and lemon juice in a small nonreactive mixing bowl. Season well with salt and let sit at least 20 minutes.

Just prior to using, season well with freshly ground black pepper and mix thoroughly.


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