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Five ideas for using leftover buttermilk

Inevitably, you will have extra. Here’s how to put it to good use.
Buttermilk dressing on a peach salad. [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 6
Updated Nov. 6

It only feels fair that, if I give you a recipe for buttermilk waffles, I give you some ideas for how to use up that leftover buttermilk. Buttermilk is one of those ingredients that can feel like an unnecessary splurge when you only need 1 cup. But it’s very worth it, able to add moisture and fat and acid to your dish all at once. And once you buy it for one recipe, you now have an excuse to make an assortment of other yummy recipes. Here are five ideas.

Buttermilk-Brined Chicken

There is nothing quite like a buttermilk-brined chicken, the tangy milk an ideal bath for your protein before it cooks.

1 quart buttermilk

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whole chicken and/or chicken pieces

Combine buttermilk, salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

At this point, you can prepare the chicken any way you’d like, but we recommend roasting. Remove chicken from marinade, allow some of the buttermilk to drip off, then line a roasting pan with foil and place chicken in pan. Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and roast another 20 minutes, or until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Buttermilk Cake

For the cake:

¼ cup butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

For the topping:

3 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream

⅛ teaspoon salt

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan (with at least 2-inch-tall sides) with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine the butter and brown sugar and stir until smooth. Add the egg, beating again till smooth. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the flour, baking soda and salt evenly over the top and still until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and/or the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center.

During the last 10 minutes of baking time, prepare the topping. Stir the butter and the sugar together. Add the half-and-half and salt. The glaze will be thick but pourable.

After the cake has baked for 30 minutes, pour the topping over the cake and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes (for a total baking time of 40 minutes). Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt, if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature. Topping will firm up as the cake cools.

Source: Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Buttermilk Salad Dressing

Buttermilk makes homemade salad dressings sing. When combined with things like scallions or handfuls of fresh herbs, buttermilk takes you quickly to homemade ranch territory.

2 scallions, white and green parts minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, grated

1 cup buttermilk

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine everything but the buttermilk and salt and pepper, and mix well. Whisk in the buttermilk until the dressing is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cast Iron Corn Bread

1 ¼ cups coarsely ground cornmeal

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

⅓ cup whole milk

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place a 9-inch cast iron skillet inside to heat while you make the batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the milk, buttermilk and eggs. Whisk in almost all of the melted butter, reserving about 1 tablespoon for the skillet later on.

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of the hot skillet with the remaining butter. Pour the batter into the skillet and place it in the center of the oven. Bake until the center is firm and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

Source: Food Network

Smothered Pork Chops

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 pork chops, ¾ inch thick, bone-in

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup buttermilk

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is nice and hot, lay the pork chops in the pan in a single layer and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the pork chops from the pan and add a little sprinkle of seasoned flour to the pan drippings. Mix the flour into the fat to dissolve and then pour in the chicken broth.

Let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly. Stir in the buttermilk to make a creamy gravy and return the pork chops to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Source: Food Network

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