Sunday, March 19, 2006

Zuni Chicken

A few weeks ago I dug out an old Saveur magazine looking for an article on Camembert and came across a whole feature on Zuni Cafe.

I used to have a subscription to Saveur -- I was seduced by the sexy food photography and the cachet of making traditional Vietnamese dishes. But every time I tried to actually attempt something, I'd be stymied by the deficiency of my larder -- by my inability to supply, say, fresh "tu'o'ng ot toi," or 12 sheets of round "banh trang."

The Zuni chicken, though, has nice local ingredients like a "chicken. " Some "currants" and "pine nuts," some "bread," some "scallions." Those, I could find ya.

Zuni's Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

  • 1 3-3.5 lb Fryer chicken with lump of fat inside discarded
  • 4 sprigs thyme, rosemary, marjoram or sage
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb of day old country bread (not sourdough) cut into large chunks and crusts removed
  • 8 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. dried currants
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, white and pale green parts only
  • 2 tsp lightly chicken broth
  • 4 handfuls arugula or frisee
Start a day or two ahead.

Rinse the chicken out and pat dry inside and out. Loosen the skin from the breast and thighs, without tearing, and tuck a sprig of herbs into each pocket. Liberally season all over with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to three days.

Place the bread on a baking sheet, brush with 3 tbsp of olive oil (on both sides) and broil 2-3 minutes on each side, til browned. Trim off any charred tips and then tear into 2" chunks and put into a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Mix together the white wine vinegar and 4 Tbsp. olive oil with salt and pepper in a small bowl. Then toss the bread with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.

Soak the currants with the red wine vinegar and 1 Tbsp of warm water in a small bowl.

Heat a 10" ovenproof skillet over a medium heat for 5 minutes to warm it. Then wipe the chicken dry and place it in the skillet breast side up. Roast for 30 minutes in the oven. Turn the bird over and roast 10-20 minutes more, then flip it back over to recrisp the skin 5-10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, warm the pine nuts for a minute in the oven and then add to the bread. Sweat the garlic and scallions in a small skillet in 1 Tbsp of olive oil over a medium low heat for 5-6 minutes. Add that to the bread also. Drain the currants and add to the bread, add chicken stock and toss well.

Put the bread salad in a small baking dish, cover with foil and put it in the oven when the chicken gets its last turn.

Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the bread in for another 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off the fat fromt he skillet. Swirl one Tbsp of water in the skillet. Slash the skin between the thigh and breast of the chicken and then tilt the bird and the plate over the skillet to drain the juices into the drippings. Allow the chicken to rest and then carve into 8 pieces.

Simmer the pan drippings over a medium heat, scraping up the browned bits. Toss the hot bread salad with a spoonful of pan drippings in a bowl. Add the greens and remaining vinaigrette and toss well.

To serve, put the bread salad onto a plate and arrange chicken on top.

Mmmmm..... Kitty feels that he has not had sufficient samplings.

Oh, and a gratuitous picture of some Tomme de Savoie we bought yesterday. Mmmmmm....

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