26 February 2022

I Have Solved the Buttermilk Problem

You know how you buy a QUART of buttermilk because a recipe needs a little bit, and then the quart sits there in the fridge until it's over the hill and you throw it out, thereby wasting most of the quart? (And then you feel terrible because food waste is actually an enormous problem - the USDA estimates that more than 30% of the food supply gets wasted.)

I have figured it out, or - to be specific - I have found a way to buy one quart of buttermilk and use it all up in two recipes: Whole Grain Pancakes for breakfast, and Buttermilk Brined Chicken for dinner.

The recipe for the pancakes is something I adapted from the New York Times site; I changed up the flours a bit to reduce the carbohydrate load. They are very tender, and complexly flavored. We make up the whole batch and then I freeze what we don't eat for breakfast. They reheat well, in the toaster. In lieu of syrup, I usually blitz a handful of frozen strawberries in the microwave; they kind of fall apart and become a good syrup analog. Feel free to use maple syrup, if that's how you roll.

WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKES (makes about 14 good sized pancakes)
1 cup spelt (or whole wheat flour) 
3/4 cup almond meal 
1/2 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup rolled oats 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
2 1/4 cups buttermilk 
3 eggs 
1/4 cup melted butter

 In a large bowl, mix together spelt, almond meal, cornmeal, oats, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, mix together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently until smooth. 

Heat up a griddle over medium heat. Add a little butter to the pan and let it melt. Using a 1/3 cup measure, pour batter onto griddle - make as many as you can at a time. Leave space for pancakes to spread. 

Cook until bubbles form and start to burst, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate as they finish, and serve immediately with butter and maple syrup or melted strawberries. 

Repeat with the remaining batter, until done. 

If you are going to freeze the excess, cool them on a baking rack. When cool, separate with waxed paper or parchment, and stack them into an airtight freezer container.

Once you've finished breakfast, you're going to want to brine the chicken. Back up. You've been roasting chicken for years. You shove a lemon or some herbs in the cavity, fling the bird in a cast iron skillet in a hot oven, and bob's your uncle. Roast chicken gets A LOT of ink, but it's not hard; it's just roast chicken. But. Brining your chicken in buttermilk? It's kind of magic. You think there's nothing new under the sun, and then you decide to make the quart of buttermilk come out even, and yeah. Do it.

Here's the thing: Samin Nosrat tells you to use 2 cups of buttermilk for one chicken in a gallon ziplock bag. BUT 1 3/4 cups is fine too, and 1 3/4 cups is what you have left after you're done making pancakes. Nosrat's recipe is divine and it's on her website. But you should get her book - Salt Fat Acid Heat - because it's good and useful and informative.

And there you have it. Two recipes, one quart of buttermilk, no science experiments with the leftover lurking in the back of the refrigerator.


Jeanne said...

I have leftover buttermilk after making cornbread, so I might try this chicken recipe sometime (although lactose intolerance means that sometimes I buy powered buttermilk, which keeps for about a year in the fridge, or use regular milk with a little white vinegar added).