recipe

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

I love it when people recommend recipes to me that they've previously cooked and loved. Which is probably why I started reading food blogs and eventually writing my own. This recommendation is from one of my readers spacegirl, who wholeheartedly recommended Zuni Cafe's method of dry brining chicken and the accompanying bread salad. If you have the forethought, it's easy to make the dry brining making the chicken moist without the addition of oil or fat and the salt rub making it easier than wet brining a chicken.

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

The bread salad, whilst not that complicated, has a few steps to it and some fiddly bits but is well worth it. It's like upping the crouton factor on your salad times ten which is how some people happen to like their salads. One thing that I always do is save the oil that sun dried tomatoes are marinated in for salad dressings. The added herbs always give it an extra boost of flavour and aroma and I always have people asking for the dressing recipes when I serve it.

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

The recipe is broken down into 5 steps, so that you can organise your time and do as much ahead of time as possible, bringing the final steps together just before serving. The resulting chicken is tender as tender can be, whilst still retaining the crispiest of skins. And serving it like this, heaving bounty style with the bread salad will only bring your applause when you bring it to the table, making the humble roast chicken most certainly posh dinner party food.

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

INGREDIENTS

For the chicken

  • One small chicken, 2-3/4 to 3-1/2-pounds

  • 4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long (I used a whole sprig)

  • Salt (3/4 teaspoon per pound/500g of chicken)

  • About 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • A little water

For the salad

  • 8 ozs (240g) slightly stale open-crumbed, chewy, peasant-style bread (not sourdough)

  • 3-4 tablespoons of oil from a jar of sun dried tomatoes (or regular olive oil, I prefer to use the oils with herbs)

  • 1/4 cup mild-tasting olive oil

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon dried currants or sultanas

  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, slivered

  • 1/4 cup slivered scallions (about 4 scallions), including a little of the green part

  • 2 tablespoons lightly salted Chicken Stock {page 58} or lightly salted water

  • A few handfuls of arugula (rocket), frisée, or red mustard greens, carefully washed and dried

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: done 1-3 days ahead of time. For 3-1/4- to 3-1/2-pound chickens, at least 2 days ahead of time

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

Step 1 - Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out (drying it thoroughly ensures that it is golden brown when roasting).

Step 2 - Breast side up, with the chicken drumsticks facing towards you, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove and herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Step 3 - Sprinkle well all over with salt and pepper seasoning the thick sections a little more heavily than the ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Step 2: Prepping the bread salad. Can be done a few hours in advance.

Step 4 - Preheat the grill. Cut the bread into slices removing as much crust as possible. Brush the bread all over with herbed olive oil. Grill briefly on both side, until golden and crisp. Cut or tear the slices into small bite sized pieces and place in large bowl. You should get about 4 cups of bread pieces and crumbs

Step 5 - Combine about 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over toasted bread pieces.

Step 6 - To a dry small skillet, toast pine nuts until golden, add to toasted bread pieces. Then place a spoonful of the olive oil in a small skillet, add cook the garlic and scallions until softened. Add to toasted bread pieces

Step 7 - Place the currants in a small bowl with the red wine vinegar and warm water and set aside to absorb liquid.

Step 3: Roasting the chicken, 1-1.5 hours before serving

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

Step 8 - Preheat the oven to 240c. Place a roasting tin in the oven to heat up.

Step 9 - While it is heating up, wipe the chicken thoroughly dry using several paper towels. Once the roasting tin is hot, place the chicken breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle. You don't need to grease the roasting tray if you've dried the chicken and preheated the tray properly.

Step 10 - Place in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees.

Step 11 - After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over with the breast side down and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to an hour. Whilst it is roasting you can assemble the salad.

Step 4: Assembling the salad, done about 30 minutes before serving.

Step 12 - Drain the plumped currants and scatter over bread pieces. Sprinkle the chicken stock over the salad and toss. Taste for seasoning.

Step 13 - Pile the bread salad in a 1-quart baking dish and tent with foil. Place the salad in the oven after you flip the chicken the final time.

**Step 5: Finishing and serving the chicken and bread salad just before serving.

Step 14 - Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the bread salad to continue warming for another 5 minutes of so. Put a serving platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two.

Step 15 - In a large bowl, toss the toasted bread salad and the greens together. Test for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper or vinaigrette if necessary.

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

Step 16 - Spread the bread salad on the warm platter, and nestle the chicken in the salad (you can leave it whole or cut the chicken into pieces)

Adapted from “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook,” by Judy Rogers.

[Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad