Oven Braised Buttermilk Chicken with Za'atar

By • July 17, 2012 • 16 Comments


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Author Notes: In addition to looking cool Frenching the chicken legs releases the tendons that are sometimes stringy and tough. This allows the legs to become tender and succulent.thirschfeld

Serves 4

  • 4 chicken thigh and leg quarters
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • salt
  • buttermilk
  • a handful of thyme sprigs
  1. Place a thigh onto a cutting board. Using a sharp sturdy knife place the blade onto the leg bone about 3/4 of an inch from the ankle. What you are looking for is the soft spot. It is a spot where, when pressure is applied with your free hand to the back of the knife, the blade will slip through cartlidge instead of pure hard bone. If you miss and hit bone it is ok it is just harder to cut and sometimes the bone splinters a little.
  2. With the blade resting on the bone grip the knife handle firmly. Place the lines palm of your free hand onto the spine of the knife keeping your hand flat as if you were pushing on the counter itself. In other words you are keeping you fingers well out of the way in case the knife tips. Apply a good amount of pressure and push the knife through the bone. Repeat this with all four thighs.
  3. Place the not yet protruding bone between you forefinger and index finger like you are making the peace sign. Put your thumb on the knee of the chicken and then scrunch the peace sign down pulling the meat with it. It may take some practice to get the feel of this technique but once you do it is easy.
  4. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and sprinkle on the za'atar dividing it evenly between all four pieces. Sprinkle some of the garlic onto the bottom of a snug fitting casserole. If it is snug you will use less buttermilk.
  5. Place the chicken on top of the garlic then top the chicken with the remaining garlic. Pour buttermilk over the top of the chicken until it is three quarters covered. Top with the thyme.
  6. Place the chicken into the fridge for at least 10 but no more then 24 hours.
  7. A half to one hour before baking remove the chicken from the fridge to get it closer to room temperature.
  8. Place the chicken into a heated 375˚F oven. and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven to 450˚ F and bake another 15 to 20 minutes making sure the top of the chicken is nice and caramelized.
  9. Remove from the oven and serve using the broth as a sauce and don't let the curdled buttermilk cheesy stuff go to waste either. Serve.

Comments (16) Questions (0)

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26 days ago Gotowanie Girl

This turned out great for me. Quick and easy meal that my husband loved. Thanks for sharing!

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3 months ago Poires au Chocolat

This looks really delicious. What do you usually serve it with?

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3 months ago Poires au Chocolat

I just had this for supper - it was wonderful. The supermarket had run out of thighs so I used breasts. I served it with mashed potato & buttery carrots.

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5 months ago Fran McGinty

There seems to be many recipes for Za'atar some with oregano some with out some with thyme. Do you have a recipe that you use or do you just buy pre-made?

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10 months ago EmilyC

This is such a fantastic, easy I made it tonight and we loved it. I only had time to marinate for about 3 hours but it was still great.

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10 months ago EmilyC

Sorry, I meant to say fantastic, easy recipe! LOVE the streamlined approach of marinating in the casserole dish. Thanks for a great dish.

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about 1 year ago Ceege

Oh boy. I saved this recipe, hoping to try it soon. However I have several questions. First of all, what exactly is za'atar. Now, could I possible just use chicken thighs and legs or perhaps even the boneless type as I do not understand the directions for cutting the chicken pieces. Thanks for any help.

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10 months ago Dima Haddad

Well Zaatar is a Middle Eastern Spice mix, Zaatar in Arabic means thyme, however when we say Zaatar in Arabic we mean the mix of (Thyme, Sumac, and Sesame seeds) it is found in all Arabic homes and we eat it with olive oil and bread as a breakfast item, if you have a middle eastern shop near you they probably will have Zaatar mix, or you can substitute it with just thyme. I recently wrote a post on my blog about Zaatar pizza http://procrastinatorcook... you have any leftover zaatar you can make this pizza, eaten typically for breakfast).

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about 1 year ago Oui, Chef

Oh my....how did I miss this one the first time around? Never mind, I am making it NOW!

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about 1 year ago MaryDD

In case anyone needs further instruction on the frenching(like me!) I found that this video illustrates pretty much word for word what the instructions outline above. http://www.youtube.com...

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about 1 year ago EatsMeetsWest

Since you can't totally see the chicken in this video, this video gives a really great view and tips on how to debone and french a chicken thigh: http://www.youtube.com...

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over 1 year ago nancye

what is in the spice of Za'atar?

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10 months ago Dima Haddad

Thyme, Sumac, salt and Sesame seeds, you can buy it from Middle Eastern stores or big stores with lots of ethnic food. you can always substitute it with thyme if you don't have zaatar on hand.

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over 1 year ago MoroccanHomeCook

it sounds like a great idea and a great dish. I've tried and lived baking chicken thighs in milk, lemon zest and rosemary, but I never used buttermilk that way. Thanks, I'll be trying your recipe this week and ca already sense that I'm gonna love it.

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over 1 year ago Ascender

Love the idea of marinating and cooking the chicken in well seasoned buttermilk.

I googled images for a french cut chicken drumstick. It appears that you remove all the cartilage from the end of the bone, then pull the meat and skin back to make the drumstick plump and round rather than long and slender. Going to try it next time I see whole chicken legs. Seems like a great trick to keep the drumstick from overcooking before the thigh cooks through.

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over 1 year ago Madame Sel

I am having a hard time understanding how to French via words. Any chance we can get a video posted? I am much more a visual person. thanks!