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Giving the Zuni chicken a try tonight...question on pans

  • c

Has anyone tried roasting the chicken in a non-stick skillet? Using a skillet is one of the options suggested for a roasting vessel, but no mention is made re: standard vs. non-stick.

Obviously, the benefit is that sticking wouldn't be an issue, but I wonder if it will affect the way the meat browns.

Thoughts??

TIA!!

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  1. Not being familiar with your recipe, I don't know what kind of temperature you're going to use. Most non-stick skillets of my experience aren't recommended for oven use over 350ยบ or so, which is as low as you should go for real roasting. I would imagine that the skillet suggested as an option would be an iron one, which I very often use for roasting birds. Non-stick pans are also fairly useless for collecting properly browned drippings, if that's an issue - which is why I usually line my non-stick roasting pan with heavy foil if I'm shooting for decent gravy.

    1. Every time I've done it, I've done it in a non-stick skillet and it's worked beautifully (issues of Teflon breakdown at high temperatures aside). The skin has turned out and crispy and browned every time. I've never used the drippings for anything, including the bread salad, but there are always plenty in the pan and they appear brown enough. Hope this helps!

      1 Reply
      1. re: MB

        Never used your drippings? Oh my! Save them for me next time! If I'm not using them right away, I freeze them and save them for the next time I make biscuits and gravy.

      2. Here's a good trick that I always use: Get a cheap, small roasting rack (grocery stores have them) and put it over your skillet. Voila... you have a roasting pan for chickens now.

        1. If all you are worried about is the browning process, then I think you are ok with non-stick. But I would discourage it for a few reasons.

          First, as I recall, Judy Rodgers's recipe is for a small bird. Therefore, you will need to roast at a high temp ... something around 500 degrees. I don't know of any non-stick pans that can tolerage that kind of heat, at least over time. I have a few Scan Pans that supposedly go up to 450, but I generally don't use them for temps over 400.

          Second, I'm pretty sure that the pan drippings are one of the keys to the bread salad. There won't be much to deglaze if you use a non-stick pan ... you WANT the chicken juices to crystallize on the bottom of the pan during roasting. That way, when you remove the bird you can pour off the liquified fat and leave the crystallized juices behind to be deglazed and flavor the salad.

          So, I'd opt for anything that (1) is heavy duty (so that juices won't burn), (2) is not too much bigger than the item you are roasting (again, don't want to burn the drippings), (3) is not non-stick, and (4) does not have excessively high sides (because you want to get even exposure/heating. If you only have high-sided pans available, then you can resort to using a metal rack or prop the bird up with a few carrots/celery/slices of onion, etc.

          Those are some of the "rules" of roasting in general. That said, I'm sure the bird will still taste great if all you have available is non-stick. But if clean-up is the only issue, go with the "rules." If you deglaze, there's not much clean up in any event.

          Let us know how it goes!

          1. I wouldn't try it. I don't have the Zuni Cookbook, but she allowed Paula Wolfert to put it in her Mediterranean Greens and Grains Cookbook and I've made it a bunch of times.

            The oven temp is really high - 500 degrees? I think.
            You roast it for 20 minutes or so on one side and then turn it and roast for another 20 (this is NOT exact, but just to give you an idea of the temp and time).

            I use a bit more vinegar than the recipe calls for. It's cooked for a short time and loses some acidity.

            Otherwise, it's a great recipe and not so complex you'll make it once and never again go to the trouble.