Adapted from the Zuni Cafe, San Francisco
Serves 2 to 4
One small chicken, approx. 3 pounds
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
A little water
At least one day before serving, slide a finger under the
skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets as well as on the
thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig
into each of the 4 pockets. Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Cover loosely and
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan
or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an
all-metal handle ( cast iron frying pan is perfect). Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry
and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.
Place the chicken in the pan in the center
of the oven and allow to start browning within 20
minutes. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the
fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30
minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan
should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes,
depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin,
another 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and turn
off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate.
Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting pan, leaving the lean
drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and
Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the
chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the
juice into the drippings. You can let it rest while you finish your
side dishes (or Bread Salad). The meat will become more tender
and uniformly succulent as it cools.
Set a platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two. Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over
medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and
bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings.
Cut the chicken into pieces, spread on the warm platter on top of the Bread Salad.
Zuni Cafe Bread Salad
Adapted from the Zuni Cafe, San Francisco
Generous 8 ounces slightly stale, chewy, peasant-style bread
6 to 8 tablespoons mild-tasting olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon dried currants plumped in 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon warm water for ten minutes or so
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 to 3 garlic cloves, slivered
1/4 cup slivered scallions (about 4 scallions)
2 tablespoons lightly salted chicken stock or lightly salted water
A few handfuls of arugula, frisée, or red mustard greens, carefully washed and dried
Preheat the broiler. Carve off all of the bottom and most of the top
and side crusts from your bread and tear into irregular 2- to
3-inch chunks. You should get
about 4 cups.
Toss them with just a tablespoon or two of olive oil, lightly coating
them, and broil them very briefly, just to lightly color the edges. Toast the pine nuts under the
broiler tray as well, but watch them very carefully — they cook
Combine about 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the Champagne or white
wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss about 1/4 cup of this
tart vinaigrette with the torn bread in a wide salad bowl; the bread
will be unevenly dressed. Taste one of the more saturated pieces.
Heat a spoonful of the olive oil in a small skillet, add the garlic
and scallions, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until
softened. Don’t let them color. Scrape into the bread and fold to
combine. Drain the plumped currants and fold them in, along with the
pine nuts, if they were not already mixed with the bread scraps from the
broiling step. Dribble the chicken stock or lightly salted water over
the salad and fold again.
Pile the bread salad on the serving dish you want to use
and tent it with foil. Place the salad in the oven after you flip the chicken the final time, for about 5 to 10 minutes. Tip the bread salad back into the salad bowl. Drizzle and toss with a spoonful of the pan juices. Add the
greens, a drizzle of vinaigrette, and fold well.