Olive-Brined Chicken Thighs

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My girlfriend recently told me about her tried-and-true recipe for fried chicken, which begins with marinating chicken in pickle juice. I have been so intrigued by that and curious about the flavor the juice imparts. She’s promised me to make it when I visit next time, and I can’t wait.

I started thinking about pickle juice when I was perusing my jarred items in my refrigerator the other day (doesn’t everyone do that?!!) and I saw a jar of brine saved from olives. I do this for my son-in-law, who is the dirty martini drinker of the family.

My mind went from olive juice to chicken, as in, marinate chicken in the brine, and then follow my friend’s second step which is to marinate with buttermilk.

I have 3 friends who swear by marinating chicken in buttermilk, and it’s a popular Samin Nosrat recipe as well. There’s something about the acid in the buttermilk that tenderizes the chicken, whether you’re planning on frying or roasting or whatever.

So, this is what happened with my olive brine and buttermilk experiment.

Olive Brine, and Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Thighs

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2 1/2 pounds total
Salt and pepper
12 ounces olive brine
12 ounces buttermilk
Garlic pepper
Olive oil


Place the thighs in a baking dish or ziploc bag. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive brine and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remove from the brine and pat dry on paper towels. Place in another baking dish or ziploc bag, and fill with buttermilk. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.

Remove the chicken thighs to paper towels to drain.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while the thighs warm up a bit.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking dish that will comfortably fit the thighs. Season them with garlic pepper. Right before baking, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken thighs.

Bake until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F. This took my oven approximately 25 minutes. If you want more browning, use the broiler for a few minutes.


Remove the baking dish from the oven, and place the chicken on a serving platter. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic pepper, if desired.


I made some carrot and pea fritters to pair with the chicken, mostly for some color and texture.

I mixed together 75% crème fraiche and 25% Kewpie mayonnaise for a creamy condiment. A little Sriracha was tempting, but I decided to keep everything mild in order to highlight the chicken.

Have you ever tried Remoulade in a tube? It is excellent.

No condiment is really necessary. I just like condiments.

The chicken was super moist, and tasted just like olives. It doesn’t look like much, but wow.

I didn’t realize the olive brine would impart so much flavor!

The marinated chicken could have also been grilled.

I’m certainly convinced about what buttermilk does for chicken as a marinade. But I also like olive brine’s part in this chicken. Next time? Pickle juice!

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

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I just came across this recipe recently, and realized that I’d completely forgotten about it. I made it once before, but for the life of me, can’t remember when. This isn’t like me, because I have a pretty good food memory. I’m assuming I made it when I had company over, because I just don’t typically make ice cream. But it was marked “wonderful” in my handwriting, so I know that I indeed made it, and definitely wanted to have it again. After all, it is summer.

The recipe is from this Wolfgang Puck cookbook, published in 1991.
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The recipe calls for 4 cups of crème fraiche, which is a lot, so I began by making it myself. If you’ve never made your own crème fraiche, you should make it. For one thing, it’s so much less expensive if you make it yourself. For another thing, creme fraiche is quite versatile, from dolloping on a fruit salad, to stirring into soups. Or, in this case, turning it into ice cream. It’s nice to have on hand all of the time.

To make 1 quart of crème fraiche, place 1 quart or 4 cups of heavy cream in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of buttermilk. Let it warm to room temperature, and sit for 12 hours. I cover loosely with plastic wrap. In 12 hours, you will have a firm crème fraiche.

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream, served with Raspberry Sauce

1 quart crème fraiche
10 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar

After you’ve made the crème fraiche, chill it completely in the refrigerator. Also have your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer and ready to use.
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Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk them well. Add the sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
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Add the crème fraiche and whisk until smooth.
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Pour some or all of the ice cream mixture into the ice cream bowl, depending how much yours holds. Turn it on and let it go until it’s ice cream. Mine took about 20 minutes.
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When ice cream is ready in an electric ice cream maker, it’s very soft. If you place the bowl into the freezer to get it firmer, the outside freezes and changes the lovely texture. It also can get too hard to remove – even with a sharp scoop.

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So for the purpose of the photos for this post, I “scooped” up the ice cream right away, and it’s easy to tell that it’s soft.
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That’s okay with me, because I got to eat some. And that’s what this is all about. Crème fraiche ice cream? It’s like frozen (or partially frozen) cheesecake.

If you want to make a raspberry sauce like I did, here is the recipe:

1 – 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon white sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place all of the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until smooth. If you don’t like seeds in your sauce (I don’t) then sieve the sauce to remove the seeds. Chill the sauce until ready to use.


The next day, I made a banana split of sorts with the crème fraiche ice cream, the raspberry sauce, fresh raspberries, and bananas. To die for…

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Achiote Cornbread

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When I first tried cornbread after moving to Texas a million years ago, it was way too sweet for me. Unnecessarily sweet. And it was always served with honey butter!

But when I began making cornbread from scratch, ignoring the sugar, I liked it much better. Besides, corn is already sweet!

The thing I’ve learned about making cornbread is that you can do so many different things to it to make it your own, and really compliment whatever entrée you’re serving it with.

Cornbread can be Southwestern with the addition of chipotle chile peppers, or it can be Mediterranean with the addition of olives and feta. You can herb it up in the summer, or add any kind of flavor during the winter months like sun-dried tomato pesto. And, of course, you can always add cheese!!!

Today I wanted my cornbread fairly simple, but I wanted a little flavor enhancement and beautiful color from achiote oil. So here’s my recipe for skillet cornbread with achiote oil.

Achiote Cornbread

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons achiote oil, plus a little more
6 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Have a 10″ cast-iron skillet on your stove.

Get your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Place the buttermilk, eggs, and achiote oil in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Have your melted butter handy.

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When your oven has preheated, turn on the heat under your skillet and let it pre-heat.

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Combine the wet ingredients, including the melted butter, with the dry ingredients, whisking just until smooth.

Using a little achiote oil, grease the skillet. Then pour the batter into the hot skillet, and immediately place it in the oven.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. It should be nice and golden and the middle should be somewhat firm to the touch.

Remove the skillet from the oven and let the cornbread cool a little for about ten minutes. Loosen the sides, then remove the cornbread onto a cutting board. It also works to flip the cornbread upside down on a cutting board.

Slice into wedges and serve warm! I recently served the achiote cornbread with Cuban black bean soup.

I prefer using corn flour or finely ground corn meal if you can find it.