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Buttermilk soaking chicken...any evidence it actually does anything?


gfweb
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Cooking is filled with must-do traditions, many of which have no support, and when you think about it don't make a lot of sense.  To me a buttermilk soak is one of them.  We know that stuff penetrates meat slowly. So what's a buttermilk soak do any more  than let the flour adhere?

 

I can find no actual evidence it does anything.

 

 

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Unless we cooking the mean old rooster who was terrorizing the hens, or an old hen - is "tender" even an issue with yhr chicken most of us are purchasing?

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Maybe it’s not the chicken!

 

“Deep frying: A batter made with a thickened liquid requires less flour, making for a more tender fried crust.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Guess I am, as always, the outlier who wants the extra crispy. Those older KFC ads almost made me cave and Florence Henderson's Wesson oil commercials had an audible crunch for a reason.  

 

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1 hour ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

There are many on snd offline articles describing the tenderizing effects of soaking chicken overnight in dairy.  Lactic acid etc. What sort of evidence are you looking for?

 

 

Yes there are. And it's said as though its a proven thing.

Is it better than mayonnaise or cream?

I think is just an accepted tradition like searing seals in juices. You still hear this from big name cooks who ought to know better.

The sort of evidence I'm looking for is more than everybody's aunt saying that is how to do it.

 

 

I'm thinking its just tradition.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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16 minutes ago, Honkman said:

Acids denature proteins, e.g. ceviche, and since buttermilk is slightly acidic (lactic acid) it will denature (tenderize) proteins at the surface of the chicken meat. It might also give a slightly tangy flavor in the final product

 

Does denaturing tenderize?

 

I'm not even sure of that.

 

 

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Many Indian dishes call for a yoghurt marinade for the meat. I’m guessing the underlying theory is the same whether or not the theory is scientifically valid. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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4 minutes ago, Honkman said:

Yes - there is plenty literature. Ultimately, if you braise a piece of meat you get it tender because you denature also proteins (not through pH but heat) but the concept is the same

 

That same heat can toughen too.   It isn't quite as simple as you suggest. Collagen denatures with braising a tough cut but the beef  muscle meat gets tougher at the same time.  Which is more tender, raw hamburger or well-done?

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So points of agreement are 

1. cant hurt

2. smells good

3 may add tang

distant 4 - that s how grammy did it - emotional connection

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Wonder if u jaccarded the meat,  by putting little slits/holes in it.

Would actually increase efficacy,  rather than just surface  application.

 

I just don't think Grammy would do it that way   :)

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Its good to have Morels

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Buttermilk and yogurt work. Kefir apparently works too, but not as well. Buttermilk and whey increase tenderness and reduce chewiness in marinated pheasant. Straight up lactic acid also tenderizes, and I'm betting that does much of the work in buttermilk and yogurt marinades.

 

For fun, you can skip to 13 minutes into the following clip to watch Heston Blumenthal convince someone to give yogurt marinated chicken a MRI. Spoiler: Yogurt appears to dramatically enhance marinade penetration. Why? Who knows!

 

 

Edited by btbyrd (log)
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I won't be of any scientific help, but I always do buttermilk unless I'm out and then it's whole milk.  

 

It's just the way it should be done 😬

 

Definitely adds a bit of tang which we like.  

 

Don't get me started on why I always add a beaten egg if I have plenty of them......'cause I dunno.  It's just what you do.

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7 minutes ago, Shelby said:

Don't get me started on why I always add a beaten egg if I have plenty of them......'cause I dunno.  It's just what you do.

Looking at the food you produce, I would have to say that science is overrated!  Keep on keeping on.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I have to ask @gfweb, you, yourself, have done any side-by-side comparisons of cooking same parts of the same chicken with and without buttermilk marinade.    Not the science that you are looking for but might give some clarity to your concerns.    I frequently think back to my early days i business.    A recently retired sports hero had taken the position of West Coast  manager of a major supplier that I did not use.   I had explained repeatedly that we were very happy with the products of their competitor who was treating us very well.   After many attempts to garner our very large account, and after several visits from the CEO of the company, he took me aside and told me I was doing the right thing.    His advice, "Never change a winning ballgame."    In cooking, we often listen to the siren calls of commercials and, yes, food blogs, and go off course from tried and true method.

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eGullet member #80.

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1 minute ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

I have to ask @gfweb, you, yourself, have done any side-by-side comparisons of cooking same parts of the same chicken with and without buttermilk marinade.    Not the science that you are looking for but might give some clarity to your concerns.    I frequently think back to my early days i business.    A recently retired sports hero had taken the position of West Coast  manager of a major supplier that I did not use.   I had explained repeatedly that we were very happy with the products of their competitor who was treating us very well.   After many attempts to garner our very large account, and after several visits from the CEO of the company, he took me aside and told me I was doing the right thing.    His advice, "Never change a winning ballgame."    In cooking, we often listen to the siren calls of commercials and, yes, food blogs, and go off course from tried and true method.

 

Thinking about it. It'll just be hard to know how to measure whatever it is that buttermilk does.

For starters I haven't read any strong claims to test. "Tenderizes" comes up, but properly cooked chicken isn't tough to begin with (as somebody already said).

 

Perhaps overnight in BM vs dipped in BM and then both get floured and fried.

 

My bet is that BM is just flour glue.

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I think that adding a slight "tang" is often mentioned.   Certainly true in mid-Eastern/Indian yogurt marinades.    True in buttermilk desserts.   

 

And if you want to be a complete cynic, what other liquid is in excess on the farm?   

 

eta, YES, overnight is the proper method.

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)

eGullet member #80.

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