Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cruze Buttermilk Grilled Chicken

Buttermilk fried chicken is rather common across the Southeastern US but you don't hear about buttermilk grilled chicken do you?

I found that ironic because grilled chicken enjoys the same benefits of buttermilk that fried chicken does, tenderizing and adding a tangy mouth awakening taste. So when I found some Cruze Dairy Farm's Buttermilk at a local market this week, I set out to create a buttermilk marinade for grilled chicken.

Cruze Dairy Farm uses the tag line "a farm forever" because last year they became one of the first farms in Tennessee to protect farm heritage by creating a conservation easement. It can never be sold or transferred for any use other than farming. That might not sound like a big deal but in Knox County, the trend is to snap up land like that and convert it to subdivisions or industrial complexes.

I have not been the best "locavore" but am trying to do better. I know I have a bunch of Knoxville area readers and I encourage you to support local farms and producers like Cruze Dairy Farm. You can find Cruze products at the Market Square farmers market and at many local retailers (a listing is available on their blog).

But back to my recipe. I browsed through a few buttermilk grilled chicken recipes but most of them had comments/reviews about being bland or they sounded bland to me in the first place. So I amped mine up in the flavor department and was very happy with the taste before adding the chicken.

Cruze Dairy Farm's Buttermilk Grilled Chicken
Source: Nibble Me This

2 cups Cruze Dairy Buttermilk
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw)
1 tsp minced garlic (dried)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp smoked black pepper (you can sub black pepper)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 ea whole chicken, cut into standard pieces
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped for garnish

Mix all ingredients except the oil and chicken in a large, coverable bowl. Then slowly add in the oil while whisking (think vinaigrette) to emulsify the oil into the marinade. Reserve 1/2 cup for glazing later.

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, cover, and marinade refrigerated for at least 4 hours but going overnight is much better. Twenty four hours is even more spectacular. I know, this is one of those, "Does it really need to rest that long?" kind of things, but trust me, go at least 12 hours.

Set up your grill for a "direct heat" cook and preheat to 350f. I used the Big Green Egg using the grid extender to raise the grate. I used Earth Fare (carries Cruze products too) natural lump charcoal which is a steal at $4.99 for a 10 lb bag. Get it while you can because I'm paying $6-7 for 8.8lb bags of other brands of lump right now.

Grill the pieces for about 25 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes. Start brushing with the reserved marinade after the first 10 minutes.

Cook until the breasts hit an internal temp of 160f and the thighs hit 170f. You might have to take off some pieces before others as they finish. Remove and rest for 5 minutes.

Since it was "Sunday supper" we served ours with mustard greens and corn bread.

I have grilled a lot of chicken over the past few years and have had some extraordinary results. But I can say this is easily the best grilled chicken marinade I have made or tasted ever. I won't try another grilled chicken marinade, there's no point. I have created the perfect one for us.

Try this with bone in chicken, boneless chicken, or whatever chicken you like. Just give it the long soak and use a quality local buttermilk like Cruze Dairy Farm's.

I always give my STANDARD DISCLAIMER when reviewing a product but because my praise is so glowing, I wanted to make sure you knew that I have no affiliation with Cruze Dairy Farm. I didn't even know they existed before last weekend when I stumbled across their product at a small market.

I named this recipe after them because I'm proud of what they do and this recipe deserves a legacy like they have set for themselves. That might seem overly dramatic, but if you try this recipe I think you'll agree.


  1. looks wonderful! I'm gong to have to try the buttermilk I bet the chicken was so tender!

  2. Sounds like one I have to try. I grew up drinking real, from the churn, buttermilk and Cruze Farm is the closest I've found to it.

  3. Marinating the chicken in buttermilk before grilling sounds great. I use buttermilk for chicken all of the time - what a fabulous idea. You sure had your thinking cap on.

    You also amped up the flavors for sure with the peppers, garlic and cilantro. I've seen smoked salt (Maldon) but not smoked pepper. Sounds interesting.

    Supporting local farmers is wonderful. We go to our local farmer's market on the square each Saturday. I wish we had more local farms in our area like Cruze. I'm not familiar with the farm heritage easement, but what a wonderful idea for preserving the future. Wish they would do it here.

  4. Oh my, this looks so amazing, Chris. I love the whole idea of a slow buttermilk marinade. And you took the best photos of this amazing chicken!

    I have to give you a giant thumbs up for eating local. It's not only good for your local economy, it's good for the planet. Not to mention the freshness of the products you get. It makes all around great sense.

  5. I got really excited when you mentioned fried chicken -- my absolute favorite meal period!

  6. WOW, This Looks delicious! Thanks for using our Churned Buttermilk!

  7. I love buttermilk chicken, but usually use SACO's powdered blend. I'll have to give the real deal a shot.

    Did the skin still crisp up for you after being marinated?

  8. Looks good! I will give it a try soon!!

  9. I think that is extremely cool that they are able to declare "farm forever". Love it. This recipe looks really good Chris. I've soaked chicken in buttermilk before baking, but never with all of the herbs and spices. And I've never used buttermilk for frying chicken. I was just typing up a post about that very topic! :-)

  10. I was not a fan of buttermilk when growing up in the south, especially when they crammed corn bread into the glass with it and ate it like no tomorrow??? But I understood the components of it help things cling, as well as flavor for cooking, so I am a closet buttermilk girl...

  11. It's good to know you think so highly of this marinade...will definitely keep it in mind. The end result looks awesome.

  12. You made such a good point. Buttermilk does wonders for fried chicken, so why not grilled? Looks super tender!

  13. I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't LOVE buttermilk fried chicken. But I'm pretty sure I would love this even more, since I wouldn't be clogging my arteries while eating it (that's kind of a buzzkill). You seriously flavored this. Love it.

  14. You continue to add skills to your culinary inventory! Thanks for sharing the knowledge!

  15. I love what buttermilk does for chicken. Sounds like a fantastic marinade that I would love to try.

  16. I've never thought to marinate chicken in buttermilk... I can't wait to try this!

  17. Your commenting on how you may never make a marinade again b/c of how delicious this one is - SOLD - will have to try. The ingredients and the photos (as always) make my mouth water!

  18. That chicken looks delicious!!!!The buttermilk is a great idea for the marinade. Love the pictures.

  19. Looks like wonderful chicken...I've heard of using butternilk for grilled chicken, but haven't tried it yet. I will now!

  20. I don't even know if you'll get this comment because this post isn't terribly recent, but I wanted you to know that I have been religiously using this recipe for years and would never consider a different one! I actually use it clear through the winter for a marinade for oven fried chicken and it works beautifully. Thank you so much for posting this!

  21. I have never heard of buttermilk grilled chicken, but this is on my list for this month. Thanks Chris!


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