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Zuni Cafe Cookbook--the BEST, BEST roast chicken and bread salad EVER!! (long)

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  • Carb Lover Apr 26, 2005 05:22 PM
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My Fellow Hounds,

Something was revealed to me over the weekend that I feel compelled to share w/ you. If I were to take a poll, I'm sure that nearly every one of you who frequents this board has made one to hundreds of roast chickens in your lifetime. In fact, our collective number of roast chickens would be of mind-boggling proportions, I'm sure.

I'm estimating that I have made at least 50 roast chickens in my roughly 10 yrs. of serious cooking. I have tried numerous variations, recipes, side dishes and have come close yet never quite found "the one"...until last weekend. You already know what it is from my title, and by now you may have already salivated over the picture below. If you know me, I rarely use the word "best" to describe anything--it's not in my temperate nature. But BEST, BEST...EVER seems to fit here.

Let me just say that Zuni's chicken and bread salad is the most delicious thing I've eaten in a very, very long time (in my home or elsewhere). Not only is each component wonderful on its own, but when eaten together, they meld into one sublimely cohesive masterpiece. The crispy, salty bite of skin...the moist, tender, flavorful-to-the-core meat...the rustic bread chunks w/ pockets of chew, crunch, and tang from the vinaigrette...the nutty, sweet, savory, and peppery of pine nuts, currants, garlic, scallions, and arugula (I only had parsley though). A truly addictive quality that guarantees no leftovers. For the poster below who wants to woo women, look no further. Men will equally swoon.

The recipe is the epitome of simple home cooking that is brought to magnificent heights by a few simple but critical factors--namely starting out w/ impeccable ingredients, pre-salting the bird, and roasting on high heat. The kind of heat that produces some smoke so that when you open your oven to tend to the bird, the alarm goes off and your SO or roommate has to open all the windows and flap furiously until the sharp ring abates. Yes, this happened, and yes, I'd gladly deal w/ it again (except I will have a standing fan set up next time).

I generally like to include a recipe w/ such a report (otherwise it's a bit of a tease, isn't it?), but have intentionally decided to leave it at that. Paraphrasing this just doesn't seem right. For me, hounds are the type to do whatever it takes to find or create the best chow, so I will leave you to google, your library, bookstore, etc.

I checked the book out from my library and this is the first thing I've made from it. The book seems to be something special from what I have gathered, and I encourage you to get your hands on it through whatever means you can. If you have any feedback or personal experience from making it or eating it at their Cafe, then I'd love to hear your comments.

I have yet to eat at Zuni, but this recipe has single-handedly turned me into a Zuni groupie. Now I must go there myself (luckily, I live w/in driving distance) to taste their wood-fired version for comparison. The one blissful thing that we did at home that we couldn't really do in the restaurant was eat most of it w/ our hands :-)

Image: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

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  1. That cookbook is one of the very rare celebrity restaurant cookbooks that should be part of a core cookbook collection. (I am also fond of the cookbook from Chez Piggy in Kingston, Ontario, but it's not as magisterial as the Zuni Cafe opus.)

    Judy Rodgers comes across as worthy of Madeleine Kamman and Marcella Hazan, other living Mistresses of Technique that make you want to Do Right By The Right Stuff.

    17 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      I agree with your comment about restaurant cookbooks. I've found only two exceptions:

      1) The Frog Commissary Cookbook. This is now out of print, and the restaurant out of business but you can order used copies at amazon. I recommend this so higly that if anyone gets one they may email me directly and I will give you detailed comments on various recipes that you must try.

      2) The Union Square Cafe cookbook...so user friendly and so many hits.

      1. re: JB

        Wholeheartedly agree with Union Square. I *love* that cookbook!!

        1. re: JB

          Frog Commisary cookbook....I have it, but never tried anything in it. Seems like the Chicken Satay was one I wanted to try. Would like your list of dishes to try.

          Must research Union Square Cafe cookbook.

        2. re: Karl S.

          Thanks for your endorsement of the book, Karl; it means alot. Glad to hear that my instincts were right on about the quality and depth of this book. Judy Rodgers knows her stuff, and even though I'm not crazy about her writing "voice" and think the recipes could be more succinct and clear, there's a lot of good info in there that I haven't come across in other books. I likely will buy the book after I return it to my library.

          Since you have the book, what do you recommend I churn out before my May 6th due date? The ricotta gnocchi look pretty darn good...

          PS. Thanks for the 'hair bag' tip. I will do that but will still need the fan, otherwise the place will still fill up w/ smoke (my stove fan sucks!).

          1. re: Carb Lover

            Well, an immortal recipe in the book is the one for the slow-cooked romano (flat Italian green) beans, which can also work for pole-type green beans. The recipe could hardly be simpler. The major unlisted ingredient is patience, and perhaps a willingness to overcome some preconceptions about what it means to properly cook green beans.

            My experience is that it takes a bit longer than the recipe suggests, but that may be because I really cook at a very low heat. A Le Creuset-type pot helps.

            Another fine springtime recipe is for the roasted boneless leg of lamb. Fortunately, I was able to find a local butcher who knew how to corkscrew (rather than butterfly) a leg of lamb. Recipe was marvelous.

            1. re: Karl S.

              '...and perhaps a willingness to overcome some preconceptions about what it means to properly cook green beans.'

              =======

              Absolutely! I found myself doing that a few times w/ the chicken recipe. I had to resist my natural inclinations and set aside prior beliefs, and my loyalty and trust were rewarded. I'm still glad that I have my prior knowledge to draw from (since I really questioned and thus deviated on a couple of things), but I am humbled and have a lot to learn from Rodgers. I'm also excited about having a female chef as my culinary heroine of the moment. Will def. consider making the lamb and green beans; they sound great.

              1. re: Karl S.

                Mildly OT but I know you are in the Boston area, as am I, and wondered which butcher can do this? (John Dewar comes to mind.)

                1. re: GretchenS

                  Oops, see the reply above yours.

                2. re: Karl S.

                  Well, a nice young fellow at J Pace & Sons in Saugus (west of Route 1, at the junction of Main St and Lynn Fells Pkwy) took care of it for me for Easter last year. He knew what I wanted, and when I got the meat, it was exactly what I thought the recipe called for: the bone had been twisted out of the central part of the cut, rather than have the entire piece slit open end to end. Made a huge difference in being able to tie the leg up into a log; would not be as even if it were butterflied.

                  They have good butchers there. And it's not the freight of Dewar's. A very nice store: good meat (chicken on ice, good beef, great pork), good produce and lots of nice things. Reminds me of the very good larger corner grocers in Italian neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Marianne Esposito of Ciao Italia fame uses JPace for her scenes in American grocers...

                  With a very nice candy store (Russo's) on one side, and a very interesting wine/spirits store on the other.

                  1. re: Karl S.

                    ... plus not too far from Karl's Sausage Kitchen. Sounds like a trip to Saugus is in order. Thanks!

                3. re: Carb Lover

                  Thank you for this wonderful post. I make roast chicken 25-30 times/year (it's a Friday night staple in our housse) and am always searching for "the best."

                  Best wishes on your impending arrival. I had a baby on May 6 and recommend it. :) He will be 8 this year.

                  1. re: doctor_mama

                    Def. try the recipe (only from the book, not a modified version that's floating in cyberspace) and report back. I've also heard the Bouchon one is "the best" so I may have to do a comparison before I declare "the one" for me.

                    Thanks for your wishes, but let me clarify...I'm not pregnant. I was puzzled when you and another poster gave me best wishes for my 'impending arrival', wondering when I might have mentioned that I was pregnant. I now realize that my mention of "due date" was naturally perceived as you did, but what I was referring to was when my book is due back at the library. So my impending arrival will be the cookbook that I order today from Amazon! Thanks for the chuckle...

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      This is how rumors start! I was following up on that other poster, figured it was someone who knew you. Well, enjoy the book until May 6!

                4. re: Karl S.

                  Gosh, my stepsister, who lives in Kingston, gave me and my husband the Chez Piggy cookbook for our wedding back in 1998. We live in LA and have never been to Kingston. I have looked through it on many occasions, but have never cooked from it. What recipes do you like?

                  1. re: Debbie W.

                    I have done less than I ought to have from this remarkably broad-ranging book. The restaurant is worth several visits, btw, since virtually everything is wonderful, as is the Kingston area generally.

                    Some easy things to start: the Stilton pate, the Gambas al Ajillo, the Leek and Stilton soup, the Red Cabbage Salad, the Lemon Anchovy cream sauce for pasta, the 10th Anniversary Chili, the Lemon Pots de Creme (I never made it, but it's good).

                    The Chez Piggy way with duck confits is legendary, btw, served with the white bean and spinach puree.

                    1. re: Karl S.

                      Thanks for the ideas.

                  2. re: Karl S.

                    I'd like to add Suzanne Goin's "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" to the short list of celebrity chef cookbooks that are full of wonderful, exciting delicious recipes that work.

                  3. Consider putting a hair bag around your smoke alarm instead....

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Karl S.
                      c
                      Caitlin McGrath

                      What's a hair bag? A shower cap?

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Yes.

                      2. re: Karl S.

                        ROFL...that is exactly what we call shower caps at our house...Hair Bags...and the only use they get is over the smoke detector when I am roasting meat. Or taking a shower, or have a candle burning, or get overheated during pilates...we have a VERY sensitive detector :-)

                        1. re: Karl S.

                          What a great idea. Much easier than taking out the battery.

                          But remember, everyone--restore the smoke detector to its proper operating condition when you're done cooking!

                        2. f
                          farmersdaughter

                          Beautiful photo, Carb Lover!! Which herb did you use under the chicken skin when roasting?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: farmersdaughter

                            Thanks, farmersdaughter. I used 4 thyme sprigs under the skin (one on each breast, and one on each leg). The recipe offered several options (rosemary or sage as well) but I like thyme best. The crazy thing is that I've done this before w/ thyme and sometimes butter (this recipe used NO butter), but never achieved such flavorful results. The 1.5 days of it sitting in the fridge really allowed the thyme to penetrate every crevice of meat. Even the drumsticks were infused w/ a delicate herbaciousness!

                            After my bad luck w/ a wet brine this past year for my Thanksgiving turkey, I'm plotting how to translate this recipe (bread salad and all) to next year's turkey. This "dry brine" is the way to go!!

                            1. re: Carb Lover
                              f
                              farmersdaughter

                              There was an article in a recent article of Fine Cooking magazine that also recommended the "dry brine". I'm definitely going to try this one soon!

                          2. I agree-- this book is a must have, and the first cookbook I'd read in a while that got me excited again about ingredients. She has a consistent vision, but she's not preachy like Alice Waters (or at least, that's how AW's tone comes off to me).

                            This pre-salting and pre-seasoning technique is my favorite "discovery" this year, and works so much better for anything that I would otherwise brine. For Christmas, I cooked my crown roast of pork following the bone-in pork roast recipe, with the fennel/coriander/lemon seasoning, and it was incredible. I now routinely season all poultry, pork, and veal this way, and it _never_ goes wrong. I usually pre-season 24 hours in advance. I made a great chicken just this weekend with salt, pepper, oregano, lemon peel, and fennel seed.

                            I tried the ricotta gnocchi recipe, and it was very good, although I don't think I drained the ricotta long enough.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: emdb

                              Thanks for your comments. Glad to hear that the pre-seasoning has generalized to other dishes for you w/ great success. I was so struck by that pre-seasoning passage in her book. Completely astounded that she would pre-salt the meat right when she brings something home from the market, before she may even know when or in what she's going to use it. I'm going to experiment w/ this...

                              It's really amazing what 24+ hrs. of pre-seasoning did for this chicken. I love how it didn't take any extra time but saved me from having to add lots of extras during cooking to pump in the flavor. Really allows you to appreciate one ingredient for what it is and bring out all that it can be.

                            2. Thank you for sharing your detailed feedback on this recipe and providing a wonderful picture. I've heard that is good but have not heard any 'juicy' details. Your description is great. I have a copy of the recipe and have put it my SF Chronicle Cookbook for future use. P.S. congrats on your impending arrival.

                              1. A link to the recipe below -- but this thread has tempted me to go ahead and purchase the book itself.

                                Link: http://www.usrg.com/recipe/zuni.asp

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Marty L.

                                  Kind of the recipe, but this is an inferior, abbreviated version. The ingredients, method, and even oven temp. are different. Her cookbook was published in 2002, whereas this recipe was printed in 1998.

                                  Just to give you an idea, the recipe w/ intro takes up 4.5 pages in the book. It is long-winded and not the most practical when you're in the midst of cooking (I found myself losing my place when I had to go back and forth), but is for the cook who likes explanations and detailed technique and variations.

                                  Buy the book. Buy the book.

                                2. This is a wonderful cookbook and is worth reading for the recipes alone. I have posted before on the excellence of her rabbit technique and the related recipes.

                                  The spiced prunes are WONDERFUL especially served with foie gras or other charcuterie. (I always sub half red wine vinegar because that is what I had on hand the first time.)

                                  I tried green almonds for the first time as a result of the book.

                                  The beef in chimay is very good, as are her cheese and fruit pairings.

                                  In LA, I haven't found ricotta worth using for the gnooci although I am actively looking.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: JudiAU

                                    Thanks, Judi. I recall you touting the virtues of this book before, but now I GET IT. Her explanations and techniques have been truly enlightening.

                                    I don't think I can get fresh rabbit where I live w/o a special order, but I've seen frozen in my butcher's freezer case. Should I not even bother w/ frozen? Nice thing is that it's all cut up for me :-)

                                    Do you know what brand of ricotta they use at the restaurant? The book didn't say. I might post on the SF board to see if anyone has recs of where to buy really good sheep's milk ricotta.

                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                      *sigh* If you can't get fresh rabbit you probably can't get sheep's milk ricotta.

                                      She doesn't specify in the book but any freshly made ricotta will work.

                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                        Actually, I've made those gnocchi (and had them at Zuni) and there IS a trick to them. You MUST use very firm ricotta--so firm it is almost sliceable. This is how ricotta is sold in Italy; the wet, scoopable version here is an American variation. In the Bay Area, Bellwether Farms' cow or sheep ricotta is perfect; you can get it at the Pasta Shop and some specialty markets. Using regular ricotta, my gnocchi were wet, gummy lumps that never firmed up enough to poach. You can try draining your ricotta very thoroughly (in cheesecloth in a colander) but I would try getting Bellwether's ricotta first.

                                        1. re: dixieday

                                          Curious about that. I ate a tub of Bellweeth Farm's sheep's milk ricotta the other day and it wasn't firm at all. In fact, it was very cream and milky/filled with whey. I would assume it would need to be drained. It was best eaten with a spoon and couldn't be sliced.

                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                            It does vary from week to week. There was a time when I bought it fairly regularly and it has varied between soft and firmer. If you bought it at Cowgirl Creamery, sometimes they kind of chop it up and leave it sitting in its whey(I guess that is the fluid). Sometimes when I buy it elsewhere it is still in the original basket shape. I find that this recipe is fairly forgiving. A little more flour does not make them tough. I also beat the egg and sometimes do not use all of it.

                                            1. re: wally

                                              Cool. Thanks for the comments.

                                          2. re: dixieday

                                            Thanks for the tip. I'm going to see what I can find in Santa Cruz at my gourmet-ish markets and then go into the Bay Area if need be. The draining technique sounds good.

                                      2. I had a beautiful organic chicken sitting in my fridge that needed to be cooked today. So I made a short cut in the Zuni Cafe recipe (I have the cookbook). I started the salting early this morning and I had to change a few ingredients in the bread salad. Used dried blueberries instead of currents, vidalia onion instead of green onions. And I was generous with the salad greens--I used the herb salad from Trader Joe's and tossed it in the lovely vinaigrette along with some drippings. Used my cast iron pan instead of a roasting pan.

                                        It was divine--my husband loved it. The photo inspired me. I love it when photos are posted. That's why I love the Chocolate and Zucchini website--lots of beautiful, mouth-watering photos.

                                        Thank you!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Kristine

                                          That sounds great! Glad it lived up to my hype. I have a hunch it would even taste better if you could have pre-seasoned the night before. I used an oven-safe skillet as well and really liked her tip about pre-heating the pan on the stovetop first.

                                          I like the way you varied things based on what you had. There are many ways to vary this recipe as long as one sticks w/ the overall technique and is sensitive about flavor balance. I mentioned currants in my post so people would know what was called for, but I actually used a combo of chopped dried fruit (golden raisins, cherries) from my farmer's market. I am def. going to use a generous amount of arugula or watercress next time since I love peppery greens.

                                          One thing that I'm really fascinated by w/ this recipe is that it doesn't give an ideal temp. the meat should reach for doneness, which was shocking to me at first and made me really uneasy. Curious if you used a thermometer? Either way, how long did you cook your bird for, at what temp, and how much did your bird weigh? Thanks...I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one.

                                        2. I don't have the cookbook, but when I was at Zuni once I copied down the recipe for the onion marmalade that was I think part of the recipe for chicken liver skewers. I've misplaced it now, but I was making gallons of the stuff for a while, and putting it on everything. Thanks for the push--I'll get the book now.

                                          1. 1st I’m a big time admirer of the Zuni cookbook and restaurant…my copy is ragtag.
                                            The following recipe for brined turkey originally from (I think House & Garden in late ‘70’s). (sorry no photos.)
                                            Recipe Listed: 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons ground sichuan peppercorns. Toast salt and peppercorns in a small heavy skillet – a bellini pan works best (mixture will stain most pans but not cast iron) until starting to smoke…the odor is almost over powering, so turn on fan and open a window. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool to room temp. Add sugar and stir to combine. Place turkey in a large bowl and rub mixture over/in (rinsed and dried) bird. Cover and refrigerate up to 5 days, turning over each day. The sugar is undetectable and sugar is a considered a “liquid” ingredient. The recipe has been adapted and reworked several times. The 2nd version, I doubled all ingredients.
                                            Then US gov’t outlawed Sichuan peppercorns, recently I heard they are available again…
                                            Here is my version that I use and teach to classes. I plan to look for Sichuan peppercorns at Surfas (Culver City, CA) and 99Ranch Markets (Gardena, CA) while conducting a shopping tour this weekend. (I listed shopping places, because it is informative/interesting to know where chow-food-people are from and shopping.) I prefer/love the Sichuan peppercorn version, but came up with the following recipe – the secret is the salt, sugar and seasoning and marinating for 3-5 days, and not a ton of water. A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider has a helpful section on dry-brining.
                                            Brined & Roasted Turkey
                                            1 turkey, 10-14 pounds, recipe can be scaled up for larger birds (or use whole turkey breast, whole chickens or any fowl – ducks, Cornish game hens, or cut-up pieces)
                                            1 lemon, sliced
                                            ¼ cup kosher or sea salt
                                            ¼ cup brown sugar
                                            ¼ cup herbs d’Provence or Italian mixed herbs or Cajun spice (maybe 2 tablespoons if chile-hot)
                                            1 cup white wine or water

                                            ½ cup soy
                                            Water, 1½ -2 cups for roasting pan, to prevent burning also to form base for gravy

                                            1. Rinse and pat dry turkey. Place in a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl or pan - optional line
                                            bowl with large-size roasting bag, using a bag makes for easier handling. Rub lemon over bird, stuff a few slices under skin, place in cavity. Place turkey in a large plastic bag, a turkey roasting bag (Reynold’s) works well.
                                            2. In a small bowl combine Kosher salt, sugar and spices/herbs. Rub or spoon mixture over entire turkey, inside and outside. Refrigerate for 5 days (at least 3 days), turning turkey over once a day. 3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place in V-rack, slit bag open down back, pull bag down under wings, make a small cut in bag under breast, so excess juices can drain. Or remove turkey from bag and more marinade over bird.
                                            3. Rub/drizzle turkey with soy. Add 1½ -2 cups water to bottom of roasting pan, to prevent burning. Place turkey in oven at 425°F, roast for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F. Roasting 3-3½ hours.
                                            (in my convection oven roasted 2½-3 hours). Figure 10 minutes per pound. Check for doneness: insert a thermometer into thickest part of inside thigh, do not touch bone, thermometer should register 170°F; or make a slit at thigh and breast junction, juices should run clear (take a peek, to make sure meat is cooked). Let rest 10-20 minutes before carving. Turkey can be left out at room temperature for 2 hours, keep covered with a damp cloth. For the Norman Rockwell Turkey – when turkey is at 160ºF, or the last 20 minutes for projected cooking time remove bird from oven, turn heat up to 425ºF. Carefully turn turkey over – try a bunch of paper towels as mitts. Return to oven for 15 minutes, until skin is browned and thigh temperature reaches 170ºF to 175ºF, the turkey continues to cook as it cools. Some prefer to slice the turkey immediately, but it tends to fall apart and juices run out.
                                            4. Serve warm or chilled. Travels well, casual, or fancy, hors d'oeuvre or main course. Strain the juices collected in bottom of roasting pan, use a fat separator/chill and fat removed. It makes a wonderful addition to gravy or sauces. Save in freezer juices (well labeled) from an earlier roast turkey so Thanksgiving Dinner gravy can be prepared ahead.
                                            In my home one turkey is prepared for roasting on Thanksgiving Eve; very late at night, at eleven or twelve o'clock: roast turkey at 450°F for 15 minutes in a preheated oven; turn down the oven temperature to 225°F. It cooks all night. Everyone awakens to the tantalizing smell of turkey. Place the bird on a small platter for snacking by family and guests during the day...no breakfast or lunch are prepared. The oven is free for the "real turkey" and everyone including the cook gets a chance to savor the delight of turkey early in the day.
                                            Yield: 10-12 regular servings, for dinner purposes figure 1 pound per person, figure 1½ to double per person for leftovers, sandwiches, such as leftovers for 4 add 3-4 pounds to the bird.

                                            1. Just wanted to say thanks! I was planning on roasting a chicken yesterday, and have the cookbook. Even with all my changes - brined for a few hours instead of the night before, had a large roaster so used Barbara Kafka's high-heat roasting method, and used diced apricots, slivered almonds, and your suggestion of parsley. It came out excellent! You've inspired me to try many more recipes out of this great book (I've made a lot of the condiments - Drunken Raisins, Spiced Prunes, and Onion pickles -which are all great). Here's my version below!

                                              Image: http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/47...

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                Thanks so much for reporting back and sharing a photo!! It looks mouthwatering. I never made a roast chicken that I wanted to make right away again, but this recipe (and all its possible permutations) may become part of my weekly repertoire now. I'm craving it again...

                                                Curious about Kafka's method. Can you elaborate a bit? I'm interested how much your roaster weighed, what your oven temp. was at, and how you determined doneness (internal temp. or time alone)? I'm still trying to reconcile how Zuni's recipe doesn't give an internal temp. for the bird.

                                                I had a 3.75 lb. bird that was cooked at 450-475F for 45 min. I have an oven thermometer so know exactly what my oven was at. What freaked me out was when I took it out of the oven at 45 min. and measured the internal temp., it shot up to like 180+F!! I made sure I wasn't touching the bone. I would normally take out my bird at 160-165F, so I thought it would be dry and terrible, but totally the contrary. It was still moist and succulent after resting. The breasts may have been a tad on the firm side, but they weren't dry or stringy at all. Like a magic trick that I'm trying to unravel...

                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                  Kafka's technique calls for roasting a 5-6 pound chicken in a very hot oven at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes per pound, although I used a thermometer (took it out at 165 and it rose to 175). It came out great. A friend had some of the leftovers the next day and commented on how it was still tender and juicy. I'm really looking forward to trying the recipe with the right size chicken, especially since Rodgers really emphasizes the skin-to meat ratio. You started lots of trouble with that delicious-looking picture! Thanks again!

                                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                                    Carb Lover, in my younger years I cooked with a couple guys from Zuni in a formidable three and a half star kitchen at Tillman Place. We all did the chickens the same way. I used to do about one hundred orders an evening of half chickens with brioche stuffing, sage, pancetta, chicken livers, topped with oyster mushrooms. Chickens were prepped and seasoned by the butcher the night before. Before service everyday, I would brown the whole bird on all sides in a sauté pan in peanut oil. The ovens were always on maximum sixteen hours a day unless pastry needed some room. Put the pan with the chicken in the oven for twenty minutes, remove and let the chicken rest for at least ten minutes. De-bone the entire chicken. When an order came in, I would throw half the chicken, skin side down in a sauté pan with butter into the oven, get another pan with the stuffing and sauce in the oven, get my mushrooms going (already half cooked with butter), and heat chicken sauce. In ten minutes, it was ready to go, if I needed longer I would cheat and put the chicken under the broiler. We never used a thermometer, there wasn’t time during service to do that, we had to go by touch especially on the grill. Four plus orders on a ticket was my worst nightmare! It would take up the whole oven and half the burners! Good luck, trust your touch more and crank up the oven!

                                                    1. re: Pablo

                                                      Thanks for the story, Pablo. Makes sense that you would pre-cook most of it and then finish to order. From what I understand at Zuni, they warn you that it takes about 50 min. since they have to cook the bird from start. Sounds about right since mine took 45 min. to cook w/ 15 min. to rest.

                                                      I actually don't mind not using a thermometer and trusting in my other senses. From what I remember of the recipe though, she doesn't do a thorough job of telling the reader what to look for to cue doneness. I know to wiggle the leg, look at the juices, etc. but none of that was explicitly stated. Her vagueness at the end seems like a relative weakness in the recipe since she was so meticulously thorough otherwise.

                                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                                        Vagueness seems to follow cooks vs. bakers. I couldn't cook a cake from a box because of all the measurements! I like Zuni's approach, because it was the worst thing in the world to 86 the chicken. Usually I would have a saute pan thrown at me and told to do it to order if I ran out of prepped chix! And if we were out, it was the busboy or runner running up Grant to Chinatown to buy more whole chickens and a waiter comping all kinds the desserts because of our tardiness! Those were the days!

                                                2. You totally inspired me to do this recipe even though I had the cookbook for a while now.
                                                  Only problem is that I did not get out of work in time to go to a local butcher, so I went to Whole Foods as I thought the chicken there would be better than Safeway's. Turns out, they did not have a whole chicken in the size dictated by the recipe. The smallest ont they had was nearly 6 lbs! So I got 3 smallish breast pieces (skin on, bone-in, kinda like chicken halves) that together totalled 3 lbs. I did do the salting last night ,but am now afraid of what the cooking will be. Should I change the cooking time? Temp? Is my quest for making a Zuni chicken totally ruined?
                                                  I'm so sad as have been boasting to BF how great this chicken will be.
                                                  HELP!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                  1. She's a beauty!

                                                    1. This is the recipe from the book, but no bread salad recipe is included.

                                                      Link: http://www.thegoodcook.com/doc/full_s...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: BLONDELLE

                                                        Nice resourcefulness! Looks like the chicken recipe word for word, w/ the intro and bread salad parts omitted.

                                                        The one thing that I really felt strongly against was at the end where she suggests slashing the area btwn. the leg and thigh to drain the juice after coming out of the oven. I don't understand that since it seems like you want to retain the juice in the bird and have it redistribute while resting. Anyone try this slashing method before?