Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Promise Kept

Don't give up on me. I've been busy, busy, busy, working twenty-six days in a row and - very unexpectedly for me - somewhere in the middle of that twenty-six days, I ended up spending a night in the emergency room.

Things seem to be pretty much back to normal, and I'm here to make good o
n my promise to tell you about how I fared with the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad.

A few years ago I read an Amanda Hesser column in which she said her sister-in-law-(to be), Timmie, had given her six of her favorite recipes for Christmas - a wonderful way to welcome someone into your family and a great present anytime. This was shortly after Amanda Hesser had written a different article saying that although she cooked often, she hadn't yet developed a repertoire.

Well, I have.

And as much as I like to try new thing
s, I have a basic repertory of recipes. Of course, it's changed over time. I used to make something that my friends call Vic's Chicken, which I don't make at all anymore (but they still do). And I am always happy to try my hand at a new dish. But for the most part, there are things I cook that people are happy to eat on a regular basis so I cook them over and over. And since I add new recipes to that list sparingly, it's been a bit of a surprise to find a lot of the dishes I've cooked from Zuni so far have instantly made it into my repertoire.

Before I started this project, I had already adopted the Zuni method for making chicken stock as my own. But the Pasta alla Carbonara, the Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (please make these right away), the Chocolate Pots de Crème, and the Roasted Applesauce, which you haven't heard about yet, are now mine too. And in spite of actually having a repertoire, I've never had a dish that I find myself making once a week. Without fail.

Until now.
Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad
Poultry, Page 342

In life-before-Zuni, I already had a way of roasting chic
ken. And it was good. In fact it was VERY good. And I did read Carol's post about roast chicken, which looks wonderful and is very tempting. But once I made this dish - at EB's insistence - I was a goner. Not only is it a once-a-week dish, it might be morphing into what I eat on most Saturday nights. Adding the bread salad is not necessary in terms of having a lovely roast chicken dinner, but it is delicious and such a perfect accompaniment to the bird that I've been making it a lot too.
Judy Rodgers says that "the Zuni roast chicken depends on three things," (which I had already figured out on my own) - small birds, high heat, and salting the bird twenty-four hours in advance.

Two other things I already had in common with Judy Rodgers when it comes to roasting chickens - the chicken is not trussed nor is it rubbed with oil or butter before cooking. We were in accord so far. I do not, however, have a wonderful wood-burning oven to cook my chickens in, although - I swear this is true - I have a book on how one is built in case I win Mega. (Have you ever seen a picture of Alice Water's home kitchen?)
The one caveat about this recipe is that in addition to salting the chicken twenty-four hours in advance, the bread salad is made with day-old country - not sourdough - bread so you do need to plan to make it the day before you're going to cook and eat it.

The Chicken

The Bread Salad

Currants in Red Wine Vinegar
Pine Nuts Toasting

And, of course, Sylvano


hanne said...

That chicken looks divine! I just got my cookbooks back out from the boxes they were piled in, and I made a beeline for the Zuni book (actually, my hands moved faster than my brain, even--I was surprised to find I was holding it!) I tried the roasted marinated beets the other night and remembered why I love the book and thought, "Yes, 'Cooking Zuni' is a brilliant project."

EB said...

Yayyyy! I'm so glad you loved it. This is honestly the one dish I am begged repeatedly to make. It's all about the panzanella AND the chicken. Two halves, one whole. So divine.

Kisses to Sylvano!

maggie said...

So helpful to see the photos step by step; for some reason I am so intimidated by Zuni Chicken.

One question—and maybe she addresses this in the book—but do you ever worry about the uncovered chicken taking on weird odors/etc in the fridge? I suppose a superclean fridge would fix this...

Really looking forward to reading your blog as you continue! What a great project.

Victoria said...

Thanks, Hanne. It is great. You must try it.

EB, I did love it; I do love it. Just perfect.

Maggie, Actually Judy Rodgers says to cover the bird loosely before you refrigerate it. I just don't bother covering it and have never had a problem. The chicken has never taken on an odor from anything else; and I always make sure the chicken smells fresh before I start messing with it so it never makes anything else in the refrigerator acquire an odor. I usually get the D'Artagnon chickens at Fairway uptown. The price is good, and they move quickly.

purpleflowers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
purpleflowers said...

The recipes look delicious! I love the idea of giving favorite recipes to a family member and/or friend as a token of sharing. It is very heartwarming.

La Traductora said...

Loved your step-by-step instructions on roasting chicken. It looks moist and just flavorful. Gracias!

Bad Home Cook said...

Now why didn't I see this post before my disasterous roast chicken attempt for Rosh Hashana? Step-by-step instructions are valuable! Just discovered your blog, and have every intention of coming back early and often. Thanks!

jennyah said...

perhaps it is time for a new post? it has been about a month....

Anonymous said...

Two months have passed with nothing posted; is all okay?

Stace and Rob said...

Zuni chicken rocks! My husband has been making it over a year and it is the best ever! I discovered your blog by accident tonight, what a great surprise to see this post! thanks!

foodhoe said...

ooh, just stumbled over here, I love the concept! I have the cookbook and have made the chicken, which I love so much but since I work in SF and am lazy, going into Zuni for that chicken is a guilty pleasure of mine... but I loved the photos and and reading about some of the other recipes. An inspiration!