We’re going to California in September and I have a reservation for Zuni Cafe. Yay! They are probably most famous for their Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, which happens to be in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I didn’t make the whole dish but I did follow Judy Rodgers‘ technique for roasting the chicken. What amazes me is that the instructions are so easy, easy enough for any beginner to follow. I really want everyone who has never cooked to try this!

Roasted Chicken with Grilled Radicchio 5

For those who are experienced chefs, I still urge you to try it. You may glance through and think, these tips are all things I know. I thought that too, certain that I had done all of these steps before, but it’s probably that I haven’t done all of it, all at once. This simple combination of little details makes a killer roasted chicken, thin and crisp skin with juicy and even (moisture, seasoning, and texture) meat.

Zuni Style Roast Chicken
~4 servings

  • 2 3/4 – 3 1/2 pound whole chicken
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or marjoram, rosemary, sage)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt per pound of chicken
  • freshly ground pepper

Instructions –

1. Discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry, inside and out.

2. Slide your finger in between the skin and breast meat on each side and from a little pocket to tuck the thyme into. Do the same over the thicker part of each thigh.

salted and herbed chicken 2

3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper more heavily on the thicker parts and less at the ankles and wings. Season inside the cavity a little over the backbone but don’t worry otherwise. Tuck wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days.

salted and herbed chicken

4. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. (She doesn’t say, but I took the chicken out of the fridge and set it on the counter while the oven was heating. I do that with most meats because it allows for more even cooking.)

5. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan barely larger than the chicken. Preheat the pan over medium heat on the stove top. Make sure the chicken is dry and set it breast side up in the heated pan. It should sizzle. Place in the oven and make sure you can hear sizzling within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature until it does. If the chicken is charring or the fat is smoking, lower the temperature by 25 degrees. Use convection (if you have) for the first 30 minutes. (I used convection.)

6. Turn the chicken over and return to the oven for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size. (I did 10 minutes.) Flip it over again and crisp for another 5 to 10 minutes. (For a 3 1/2 pound bird, with convection, my total time was 46 minutes. Without convection will take longer.) I like to check for done-ness with a stem thermometer. It should be 165 degrees at the thickest part of the chicken and juices will run clear. Remove and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Chicken with Grilled Radicchio 7

I served it with Grilled Radicchio drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It was so wonderful together. The Radicchio recipe will be up tomorrow.

posted by jessica at 08:30 AM Filed under American, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.