Continuing what I’m hoping will become a tradition, we hosted Mother’s Day at our house for the second year in a row. We had last year’s weather in mind while planning the menu: Buttermilk Brined Chicken grilled on the barbeque, Italian Panzanella, potato salad, grilled asparagus, all topped off with carrot cake for dessert (whew!). Mother’s Day last year saw us basking in the sun in the backyard, walking to the beach and maybe forgetting that it was Sunday and drinking a little too much sangria. This year it was cold, with gale force winds and I think I heard there were ice pellets in the region. Gross. I originally considered tweaking the menu to make it less summery as soon as I heard the weather forecast, but I’m glad we stuck with the fresh, outdoorsy menu, it was a big hit!
Both the brined chicken and panzanella are dishes we’ve wanted to try for while (see this post for carrot cake recipe). A simple brine is essentially just salted water which keeps the meat moist, plump and adds tonnes of flavour. The additional ingredients in the brine are drawn into the chicken as it marinates.
Buttermilk Brined Chicken
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/8 cup hot sauce
3 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
1 cut-up whole chicken (about 3 1/2 – 4 lbs)
1. In a large bowl mix buttermilk, water, brown sugar, hot sauce, salt and pepper until sugar is dissolved. Stir in onion, lemon and garlic.
2. Place mixture and chicken pieces in a large zip-lock plastic freezer bag; seal and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Heat barbecue to medium heat. Cook chicken 40 to 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°.
Adapted from Southern Living
Panzanella with Red Wine Vinaigrette
3 peppers (variety of colours)
mixed tomatoes, chopped (2-3 medium and a handful of grape or cocktail size in different shapes/colours)
1 stale french baguette cut into 3/4 inch pieces (Note: the next time I make this I will toast the baguette to ensure it’s dry and crisp)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 cup olive oil
1. Roast the peppers. Turn the broiler to high and place peppers underneath, turning periodically until all sides are blackened. Remove from oven and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for about 20 minutes – the heat causes steam which loosens the skins. Take out the peppers and peel off the skins, chop into 1 inch pieces.
2. To make the dressing, whisk vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Makes about 1 1/2 cups, the remainder of which will keep in the fridge for about a week.
3. Assemble the salad: combine peppers, tomatoes, red onion, bread, arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1/3 cup of the dressing, toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Adapted from one of the most beautiful cookbooks I own, Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann.