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Zuni Cafe Cookbook: Seafood/ Poultry

January 2007 Cookbook of the Month: the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers and Gerald Asher. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on seafood and on poultry here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating.

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  1. It's appropriate, I think, that the first post on this thread should be a paean of praise to the Zuni roast chicken with bread salad recipe. If you don't make anything else from the book, try this; it's worth the price of the book all on its own.

    13 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Agreed -- the zuni chicken with bread salad is legendary for a reason. I did two birds side by side last year, because I was serving a crowd, and it was definitely one of the best things I made in 2006. Once I get over the past few week's indulgences I'll do it again.

      1. re: pikawicca

        Agreed. This recipe changed the way I made roast chicken. I am usually too lazy to make the bread salad. This is my new way of roasting chicken! The salting works a miracle.

        1. re: pikawicca

          I have made this dish more in the past two years than any other. I stopped flipping the chicken mid-roast after a number of nasty burns on my arms with very little negative effect.
          I'm lucky to have access to amazing local poultry, but the salting does make a good thing even better. That preparation has become standard in our kitchen even without the bread salad.

          1. re: wandasue

            Thanks for your tip on not flipping; I'll have to try that sometime and see if it makes much difference. In all the times I've made the chicken, I've been able to avoid hot oil jumping on my skin by wearing elbow-length oven mitts. I've also mastered quick flipping w/ tongs and a metal spatula.

            In fact, I just made the chicken and bread salad (this time w/ mizzuna greens) for guests the other night and it was very good. I kept the oven temp. at 450F instead of 475F and didn't have any problem w/ smoking; however, the skin was noticeably less crispy and the chicken seemed to render less fat. Still tasty though!


            1. re: wandasue

              I made the recipe last week. We all loved it and I had followed every step just so, but the skin stuck to the pan when I flipped it back. A little sad, so I think next time I won't bother. Anyone have any further thoughts on the need to flip or not flip?

              1. re: waver

                I always use a small grate under the chicken - one with small legs to lift it up a bit. You could spray it with non-stick coating to keep it from sticking.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Good plan. I'll keep my eyes out for one of those. Thanks.

            2. re: pikawicca

              So three years later, I just made my first Zuni roast chicken with bread salad recipe. You are correct, pika; worth the price of the book. The breast meat on mine was slight overdone. I'm sure it's because I raised the temp to almost 500 cause I didn't think it was browning correctly. Next time I'll leave it alone and know it will brown once I turn it over. And the bread salad is to die for, isn't it? I forgot to get the called for greens and used baby spinach instead. No problem but I would have preferred arugula. I have enough leftover (there were just two of us) that I'm going to reheat tonight with some pork chops. There is a reason some things are classics. SO good.

              Edit: I forgot to add that the hard part was finding a small(er) chicken. I looked all over Tahoe and Reno and the smallest I found was at WF and it was still 3.5#. Everything else was over 5# but that's a different thread.

              1. re: c oliver

                So was there a lot of smoke?

                Are you ready to try it on a gas grill outside?

                One of jfood's favorite recipes and still the topic of a few stories from one of the little jfoods on how dad almost smoked her out of the house.

                1. re: jfood

                  I remembered y'all mentioning the smoke but it was no worse than some other things I've done. But the oven had been recently cleaned. And Bob opened the window that's directly across from the stove.

                  Do you do it on the grill? If so, do you put it in the pan and then THAT goes on the grill rather than putting the bird directly on it. Doesn't sound like a bad idea since we're talking more heat than I normally use in my oven.

                  Had some soft tacos with leftover chicken, rice, beans etc. for lunch today and still have loads left.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    It's a combo plan...

                    1 - use a vertical roaster
                    2 - when you light the grill only have the two outside burners on and the middle one off
                    3 - place the boyd over the "off" burner, close it for 25 minutes or so.

                    if you do not follow steps 2 & 3 properly, call for pizza delivery. (yes jfood has the black bird and delivery receipt to proveit).

                    1. re: jfood

                      I have a vertical roaster and a three burner grill so looking good so far. Do you put the vertical roaster directly on the grill or in a pan?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        jfood has gone the no-pan route. He has a 3-burner weber genesis and the middle burner is off. The thermometer on the cover indicates the inside temp is >500 degrees.

                        The key is to NOT have the middle burner on from the word go. Otherwise, bye bye birdie.

            3. I love the bread salad, it's a wonderful dish all on its own. I'm not a fan of the chicken which I've made twice and found dry. I usually make a roast chicken using Cook's Illustrated's method (butterfly, roast flat over broiler pan) and combine this with the bread salad to get the best of both dishes.

              1. I haven't made the chicken and bread salad recently, but here's a picture from my first time when CarbLover jump-started my interest in Zuni. I love this dish.


                13 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, p. 342

                  I haven't made this in a while but when Zuni was decided on as COTM, this was one of the first recipes I wanted to make again. I used a 4-1/4 lb chicken, salted for 48 hours, and for the bread salad used champagne vinegar, zante currants, pine nuts, and fresh cilantro instead of the greens.

                  I was reminded again what a fantastic recipe this is - just a great meal, especially with that delicious bread salad. As I was making the bread salad, my husband kept picking at the chicken and I heard "so juicy", "it's perfect" and "this is delicious". I've promised him that I'm going to make this once a month from now on.

                  Recipe link:

                  1. re: Rubee

                    I've got my chicken brining away for my first try at this chicken tomorrow night. Given the previous reports, I'm very excited (and plan to try to cover my smoke alarm).

                    1. re: Rubee

                      My turn on the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, (p. 342)

                      Brined the chicken on Tuesday morning, used thyme springs (thought about the rosemary she also suggests; maybe next time). Her instructions are long, but straightforward and very clear (I was daunted by a 3 page recipe - I shouldn't have been). This was a very good roast chicken. Mine was slightly dry in the breast. I'd gotten a bird on the larger side but still within her given recommendations, and so I used the longer cooking times she gave. The bread salad was killer. My only problem, but kind of a big one: I woke up in the middle of the night completely parched. I hadn't noticed while eating that anything was especially salty (but I never picked up the salt shaker, kind of rare with a roast chicken), but it really did dry me out. Has anyone else had this problem? The chicken itself is so simple that I'll try it again soon without the bread salad, and try a little less cooking time (and drink tons of water instead of wine with dinner!). Also, I had absolutely no smoking or problems with turning it over.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        I revisited the bird as well. I made it for Thanksgiving dinner since I prefer chicken to turkey. And, I love this recipe.

                        I wasn't able to find a smaller chicken this time and had to use a 4.25 lb bird. With the longer cooking time, it was fine, but not as flavorful as a smaller bird. There were no comments of dryer breasts from C and the dark meat was delicious.

                        I haven't had any problems with waking up parched. But, I also drink a lot of water, even when I drink wine.

                        For Boston area residents - I continue to use Clear Flour rustic italian bread for the bread salad. However, I think the loaves are now smaller. Typically, I've used 2 loaves. This time, I noticed that there was less bread for the salad then there had been in the past.

                      2. re: Rubee

                        My turn ( quite late in the game) on the roast chicken. I had thought my oven was fairly clean, but the copious smoke, and subsequent sounding of both smoke detectors in my apt. have proven that it was not as clean as I thought! I had salted a 4 lb. Chix ( slightly larger than what is recommended) for 48 hrs. Roasted in a 450 oven, turning as advised. I used a cast iron skillet, which reached near nuclear meltdown temperatures. I managed to burn my pinkie finger right thru the oven mitt! Nevertheless, the outcome was outstanding. Even the breast meat was succulent and juicy, the skin crispy , flavourful and delicious. Bread salad was very good. I served my favorite arugula/fig and mustard vinaigrette salad on the side for my gluten intolerant guests. This is a definite repeat- so long as I temporarily disconnect the smoke
                        detectors. :-)

                        1. re: Blythe spirit

                          I, too, do my Zuni chicken in a cast iron skillet in an apartment and I've discovered that even if my oven isn't at it's pristine best (Ha! Who'm I kidding! It practically never is.), I can cut down significantly on the amount of smoke by dumping the accumulated fat each time I turn the chicken. It's a bit messy, since I have to remove the chicken from the pan each time, but it works. At least for me. And well worth the effort. Great chicken, isn't it?

                          1. re: JoanN

                            JoanN, I was very impressed by the flavor and texture. And the advice to dump the fat during the turning process is great - I don't know why I didn't think to do that.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Alternately, you can slice up some potato/onions to cook/melt in all that delicious salty fat.

                              1. re: rose water

                                I tried that once and they burned. Do you do your chicken in a cast-iron skillet?

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  I do. It's been a while since I made it last, so I don't remember the exact mechanics. I think I add stuff on the second flip.

                            2. re: Blythe spirit

                              You know, after the first couple of times I stopped flipping and the chicken still comes out great. I hate wrestling with the super-hot pan, sputtering fat, not to mention the bird itself, so I just let it alone. I think it's the salting in advance and high heat that really makes the bird. That doesn't address the smoking issue, but I think you could periodically remove the fat with a turkey baster even if you don't flip the chicken. I don't actually own a turkey baster so I've never tried this but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

                              1. re: Westminstress

                                i've been waiting for chicken to go on sale to try it out. the smallest available chicken was 4.8 lbs. when should i start the salting? i'm cooking it friday night.

                                1. re: arjunsr

                                  Salt the chicken anywhere from 1 to 3 days ahead of time. Here's the recipe:


                        2. Monkfish braised with white beans, fennel & tomato p.326
                          I've been making a variation of this (no beans or tomato or saffron)
                          basically the onions and fennel are cooked a bit, and used as a bed for fish
                          monk fish, or cod or any other firm thick white fish

                          also I don't sear the fish, I just bake it in a hot oven rather quickly on the bed of veg and wine. This is one of those instances where reading the recipe was a jumping off inspiration for me, not an exact replica of the Zuni dish.

                          The onion/fennel bed gets deliciously carmelized.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: pitu

                            MOnkfish braised with white beans, fennel and tomato P. 326

                            I would have to say my attempts to make this dish were probably a major failure, and yet, I still thought this dish was delicious. The reason for my classification of my attempt as a failure will become clear soon.

                            I decided to make this dish after I came home with some cod fillets. Ironically, at the fish shop, I looked at some monkfish and thought, I'd really like to buy this monkfish, but what would I make with it? Ah well, next time. So Strike one has to be the choice of thin cod fillets instead of chunks of monkfish.

                            I sauteed the fennel in olive oil, then added the onions as directed. Added and boiled white wine, then the tomatoes, saffron, garlic, chili pepper flakes (instead of a dried chili). I skipped the ouzo, none in the house. I then used some of my Zuni chicken stock. Instead of white beans, I decided to use boiled sliced potatoes, which I really liked, but I think I added too many potatoes. The starch from the potatoes probably overly thickened the sauce, and perhaps diluted some of the flavours. (Strike 2).

                            I did not pre-salt the fish (Strike 3), I was not that organized for time. When I pan-fried the fish, it did not brown very well, and because the fillets were thin, they started falling apart very quickly. I reduced the cooking time because I did not want to overcook the fish. I then added the fish to the sauce and simmered as instructed. Then I transferred everything to an oven-safe dish and broiled it. I did not bother serving the aioli.

                            The flavours of this dish are excellent! It was very delicious. I love the subtle anise notes that you get with cooked fennel. But I was disappointed that I was unable to get the fish to brown, and I was also disappointed that the fish flaked into pieces rather than staying in a nice large piece. I have determined I am not the best cooker of fish. I was happy not to over cook the fish.

                            I served this dish with a white Burgundy, Domaine de la Cadette "La Chatelaine" Bourgogne Vezelay 2006. I used some of this wine to cook the sauce. This wine has the roundness of a white burgundy, with lovely mineral notes and a bright acidity that match well with this dish and this sauce. Perfect match! I do love white Burgundy.

                            1. re: moh

                              moh: I used a couple of ling cod fillets to make a Goin recipe the other night that called for halibut. My fish fell apart, too, but it was quite delicious. Maybe we'll both try our recipes with correct fish in the next month.

                              TIP: I got this from Alice Waters' COTM from last month. She has a tip for browning chicken which worked for chicken and also worked for my cod. It may have been falling apart, but by gum it was browned.

                              You take a frying pan and cover the bottom with foil and then butter or oil it. I was too lazy and cheapskate to use the foil so I just used the bottom of a very clean Le Creuset frying pan. After you put the meat/fish into the frying pan to cook, you place the other frying pan on top of the fish and the weight presses the fish down so that it is evenly in contact with the hot surface. This has worked well for me 3 times now.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                This sounds like a good tip! Do you heat the first frying pan up at all? or just use it cold?

                                1. re: moh

                                  moh: I'm not sure what you mean by "first" frying pan, but I figure you mean the weighting pan. I used it cold. Actually, since it was sitting on the stove, just off the burner, it was probably warm. I think it'd be a good idea to heat it a bit.

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    Thank you Oakjoan! I did mean the weighting pan. I shall try this trick next time, looking for that lovely browning.

                              2. re: moh

                                Doesn't sound like a failure at all! May not have been exactly what Goin meant, but still a really nice meal. And it looks good too. I'm thinking of making this with canned beans (in other words, cheating).

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  LulusMon, I was this close to using canned beans! But I was boiling some potatoes up anyways, and I saw the note at the beginning of the recipe. I really like this with potatoes, I love how they take on the flavour of this sauce.

                                2. re: moh

                                  Finally got around to the Monkfish (cod) braised with white beans, fennel and tomato (p. 326) and it was heaven. Whole Foods did not come through with the promised monkfish, but the cod was fine for me - I simply sauted it a bit less than the monkfish would have been, then added it to the pot of veg and simmered for only a minute or two. I used canned beans. I cannot express how wonderful I thought this was - hit lots of my favorite notes - caramelized fennel, anise liquor, fish, beans, garlic and the aioli just made it killer. Using the canned beans made it a relatively simple dish to make too (sorry Bittman). No photo - computer has crashed and I'm using a random one in the house).

                              3. p.334 shrimp cooked in romesco
                                romesco is a chili/nut/tomato concoction, not unlike a mexican mole paste.
                                I followed her romesco recipe exactly, except I didn't have the brand of red wine vinegar she calls for, one fortified with sherry. I also didn't have any sherry. The paprika I had was also unremarkable, probably old. I added an extra ancho chili, cause it seemed to need it.
                                The result: the romesco was not too spectacular - just okay,
                                This dish is all about having the right ingredients in top form.
                                I also found rubbing the skins off toasted hazelnuts to be something I didn't want to do very often (roll eyes here)

                                I had extra of the romesco base left over, froze it, and used it later blended into winter squash soup. THAT was good. I added more garlic and salt, and some buttermilk in one batch. The romesco is thickened with old bread, which is a very good soup thickener too.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: pitu

                                  pitu I made this too but thought that the result was really good. I wonder if the quality of your paprika affected it as the paprika really gives it that extra smoky oomph. The romesco takes a looooong time to make and when I do it again, I'll double the recipe and freeze half.

                                  1. re: pitu

                                    I agree that taking the skins off toasted nuts is a pain -- hazelnuts, blanched almonds, etc. But I found that if I wrap them in a kitchen towel and then rub as a group, the skins come off rather expeditiously, with some attention then paid to individual nuts.

                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                      I do this often enough that I took a very old towel, folded it over, and sewed two sides together (leaving one side open, so that it forms a bag). This prevents the nuts from dropping out of the towel quite so much.

                                    2. re: pitu

                                      I made this for dinner last night -- fabulous. I didn't have the red wine vinegar she called for but I have a very good quality red wine vinegar which I used along with some sherry vinegar. I also didn't fry the bread; instead I just cubed it and tossed it with a lot of olive oil and toasted it under the broiler along with the tomatoes. (Anyone think Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes would work in the recipe?)

                                      I used Spanish smoked paprika and a regular mild dried chile rather than an ancho, which is smoked, to kind of balance out the smokiness. No problems with rubbing the skins off the toasted hazelnuts, but I roasted more than the recipe called for and then rubbed, and the hazelnuts whose skins didn't come off just got left out (and eaten as a cook's treat).

                                      Definitely will make this one again, and with lots of sauce left over I can't wait to play around with it -- in soups, as a pasta sauce thinned with broth, etc.

                                      1. re: pitu

                                        I made this on Friday, and it turned out great. I was trying to make it quickly after I got home from work, so I wasn't able to drain my canned tomatoes very well, so they didn't roast very well. I was also trying to use my toaster oven for some of the browning as I hate to heat up the whole oven for small jobs (it worked well on the hazelnuts, but not on the tomatoes). I like how detailed her instructions are--for instance, you are supposed to fry the bread for 2-3 minutes per side or until it's the color of cornflakes. I wasn't able to get quite to cornflake color in 3 minutes, but thanks to her specifying that, I knew what I was going for. As I was hurrying this recipe along, I didn't soak the romesco for 30 whole minutes (more like 15) but it tasted fabulous anyway. If I were to make this again, I'd do the base romesco in advance, then finish it with the soaking on the night I served it. I happened to have on hand two spanish paprikas, one hot and one sweet, so I used both as directed in the recipe.

                                        When I went to the store, the fish case didn't have any shrimp, so I got the halibut instead. I cooked the halibut in the romesco as she describes for the shrimp, but maybe just a couple of minutes longer until it flaked. The combination of romesco, halibut, and spinach was fabulous, and I'm ashamed to say that we ate the entire recipe's worth of romesco and spinach between two of us! I'm sorry now because I'd love to try it on some winter squash. Maybe next time.

                                      2. Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad (pg. 343)

                                        I made this for the first time last night. It's been on my "to cook" list for a couple of years, ever since Carb Lover started singing its praises. As an aside, due to CL's praises on this dish as well as other CH's praises of the actual restaurant, I went to Zuni last June and bought a signed copy of the cookbook. I had "tested" the cookbook previously but had never made the chicken - mostly because I can't get my act together to plan 3 days ahead for a meal. Also, my oven was always a mess and I remember reading that this chicken can smoke up a place. I didn't want to start with a dirty oven.

                                        Boy, I wish I did this earlier because this chicken was fabulous. C was thrilled and we had made many a roast chicken in the past. The chicken skin was crisp and taut across the body. The meat was juicy and flavorful. Between this and the mock porchetta, I am a dry brine convert. I actually think my version was better at home than at the restaurant. Probably because it came out hot whereas it was only warm in the restaurant.

                                        And, the bread salad was delicious. Lots of flavor and chewy and crispy at the same time. I almost didn't buy the currants because I am not a raisin fan. Yes, two different things, but the currant is negative by connotation. But, I am glad I did. I probably had more pine nuts and arugula than called for.

                                        The only down side is that the apartment got really smoky. I set off two smoke detectors and now my oven bottom is pretty dirty. But, it was worth it. I'm already thinking of making this again.

                                        Has anyone roasted two chickens side by side? Would additional time be needed? My 3 lbs bird was enough for two and there were leftovers, but I would like to serve this at a dinner party. Also, I was thinking of sewing a couple of legs on to the bird (see the NAF board on the food pranks) and was wondering how the high heat would impact the extra legs and cooking time.

                                        Pic of chicken and bread salad:


                                        Plated with radicchio salad:


                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          I routinely do two of these with no problem.

                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                            Great pics! Glad it lived up to the hype. I love that chicken and bread salad and remember my first-time revelation that came as a complete surprise. I now adore roast chicken which was never the case before!

                                            I've tried roasting two chickens at a time in two different skillets, rotating each pan halfway through. While it worked ok and didn't change the timing too much as far as I can remember, I found that it didn't roast/brown as evenly and the skin wasn't as crispy, caramely as it usually is.

                                            I typically roast a 4-4.5 lb. bird so that we can have leftovers or serve 4 total. I've heard that others have been successful w/ even larger birds, so that could be an option instead of two birds.

                                            The sewing of legs, I haven't a clue...

                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                              After leaving Zuni a few weeks ago without trying the chicken, I have researched this thing all over the internet. I was concerned about my 5 plus pound bird, so I spatchcocked it after three days of salting ( I used more like a teaspoon per pound), and it was perfect after 20 minutes on each side at 475.So problems with smoke alarms, but I did the convection for the first thiry minutes, and have a pretty powerful hood. I cheated on the bread salad using earthboud farms spring mix that I buy for my guinea pigs. I would have like to have had the spice of the arugala, but it was great.!

                                            2. re: beetlebug

                                              Beautiful! Is the radicchio salad also in Zuni or is it your creation?

                                              Edit: doh. Just saw your post on the salad thread...

                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                I've done two small chickens side by side as well as one larger bird. I prefer the two chickens so you can get as much crispy skin as possible.

                                                I always skip the currants, also due to negative raisin connotations. I also make up for it with extra arugula and pine nuts. I LOVE the bread salad soaked with chickeny juices.

                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                  I generally use whatever I have around. Dried cranberries also go nicely.

                                                  1. re: yumyum

                                                    I really think the sweet from the currants adds to the whole bread salad effect. How do you feel about chopped dried figs?

                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                      Oddly enough, I really liked the currants for this dish and am glad that I got over the raisony looking aspects. I was also going to omit them but thought that the sweet of the currants balances with the savory of the rest of the salad (which it totally did). Moreover, I really like these buttermilk currant scones that I occasionally buy from a local bakery (Petsi's).

                                                      Of course, I now have a container of currants that I won't eat outside of the bread salad so C has been throwing them into his granola. Darn, I'll just have to make the whole dish again. Sometimes, these sacrifices are just too much ;-)

                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                        Currants and toasted pine nuts are great with sauteed chard or other bitter greens. Another way to use them up.

                                                        1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                          Thanks. I'm going to keep that in mind the next time I go to the store.

                                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                                      I think maybe we've discussed this before, but I can't find it... is there anyway to combat the smoking oven? I live in an apartment too and my smoke alarm goes off very easily and I can't reach them (safely) to turn them off!

                                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                                        I read somewhere on the board re: the smoke alarms is to put a shower cap over it. I haven't tried it yet, and hope to next time. Just have to find some shower caps. For this past chicken recipe, I disconnected the one by the kitchen and closed the doors leading to the back stairwell, in hope of not setting an alarm off.

                                                        The smoke is potent though. Not only was my apartment filled with smoke; but, I have a smoke alarm, with the battery in, but not on the ceiling. It's actually sitting on my desk shelf, with a bunch of books on top of it. When I heard the beeping, I wandered to a bunch of places, seeking the offending alarm. I was very surprised that it was this one because I had forgotton about its existence.

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          I've used a plastic bag with a rubber band to cover the smoke detector--you just need to keep the smoke particles from getting to the detector. Food over safety :)

                                                    3. Sea Bass with Leeks, Potatoes, & Thyme

                                                      This was really delicious and super easy to prepare.

                                                      The fish was infused with flavors of thyme and butter and was served over the potato and leek mixture in a silky buttery stock. Really delicate flavors but perfectly balanced. Very good. I will make this again.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: kitchensalli

                                                        We made the (Sea Bass) with Leeks, Potatoes and Thyme last night and loved it . The combination of ingredients that Kitchensalli refers to are lovely and full of flavor. I must say though, I used Pollock instead of the Sea Bass due to environmental issues. (Yes, I'm afraid I am going to substitute various fish as the need arises. I'll also try not to be preachy about it.) Anyway, it was delicious and a good substitute. I served it with plain steamed fresh green beans.

                                                        Zuni is slowly being demystified for me ... finally!

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          Huh, you have me rethinking this one. I had passed it by thinking it sounded slightly dull, but when you say full of flavor it perks my ears and tastebuds right up.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            Yes, the dish was very tasty in a comfort food sort of way but then I love thyme so I may have added more than just a sprig. Also, I know you like robust flavors so make sure you tweakthe ingredients to your liking. I don't have the book in front of me but I can't remember if DH added salt & pepper.... I bet he did. Don't forget, I subbed the recommended fish for another blander one and still we liked the dish!

                                                            You see, I prep the mise en place sitting at the sink across the room then the little dishes are moved to the counter near the stove where DH actually cooks as I read the steps directly from the cookbook. This is the way I have to "cook" these days. I imagine some creativity happens twixt me and the skillet .even though he tries to be accurate. So far this method has produced some delicious dinners, though.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              You know what? it sounds like some beautiful alchemy to me (and fairly romantic too!). I will happily tweak away when I try this one (and I have no problem subbing fish).

                                                              I'm loving Zuni. Everything I've made (not a hugely long list, but still) has been absolutely wonderful.

                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                            Gio, thanks for the info about substituting pollack. I am always a little nervous about substituting fish, as I am inexperienced with cooking fish. Fish is so expensive too, so I am worried about screwing it up. This gives me courage to go for it! Too bad though, I do love sea bass... Sigh. Already we are in the days when we say " I remember eating...."

                                                          3. re: kitchensalli

                                                            I really liked this too. I used more leeks than were called for because I wanted to use some up, and slightly skinnier sea bass fillets (everything's smaller in the UK). Mr GG, who's not a fish lover (hates the bones - the wuss) lapped it up.

                                                          4. Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

                                                            Made this tonight – my first Zuni Chicken!

                                                            I chose a free range chicken and salted 3 days ahead. It really was the BEST roast chicken we have ever had. Previously our favorite was Marcella’s with the lemons but tonight’s Zuni won out in a big way. I was really impressed with how moist and flavorful the breast meat was. The skin was great although I found it a bit too salty. Now that I’m familiar with the method I can’t wait to make it again and tweak things a bit.

                                                            I also made the bread salad. Really fun dish – rave reviews. Can’t wait to do both of these again.

                                                            1. I also love this roast chicken. I don't usually put my fry pans in the oven though, and the first time I made this receipe I burned my hands trying take the pan out of the 500 degree oven by the handle without a glove. Idiocy has a price.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: ronla

                                                                Don't feel bad, we've all done it.

                                                                Now that you've passed Milestone #1 - Burn yourself, try to avoid Milestone #2 - Burn Others.

                                                                Whe I take the pan out of the oven (with a potholder/glove) and remove the food, I place the pan on the stove. I then PLACE THE MITT OVER THE HANDLE so that some unsuspecting member of my family grab it on the stove and scream bloody murder.

                                                              2. Roast Chicken Salad with Peppers, Pine Nuts, Olives and Bitter Greens (pg. 346)

                                                                I made this using my leftover Zuni Chicken (see above). I debated on whether or not to even try this because I loved the chicken and bread salad too much. I am glad I did. This was a satisfying meal that gave a different twist on the chicken itself. The chicken fat and chicken gave the salad itself a lot of flavor. Actually, it was very similar to the original dish itself except that it was heavier on the greens, had olives and a yellow pepper.

                                                                Picture of salad in bowl:


                                                                Picture of plated salad:


                                                                1. I made the chicken and bread salad as well this weekend, though I admit it's not a new recipe for me. Still, I made a few variations on the bread salad that I thought were nice -- maybe not an improvement, but definitely acceptable. Chicken -- pretty standard -- I used fresh thyme and some herbed salt I had -- pretty wonderful. I do tend to use more salt than she calls for, but I like things a bit salty.

                                                                  For the salad I realized after beginning that 1) the dried currants I got at Trader Joe's were dried black currants, not Zante. They were a little tarter than the Zante, but also plumper, and stained the vinegar this lovely purple color. 2) I had no pine nuts - I ended up using some toasted skinned hazelnuts I had in the cupboard, and chopped them up. They added a nice dimension to the salad. I also just heated the garlic and scallions with the chicken drippings, instead of cooking them separately in olive oil. This really caused no diminution of the flavor and streamlined the process a bit.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                    "I also just heated the garlic and scallions with the chicken drippings, instead of cooking them separately"

                                                                    This is exactly what I LOVE about Cookbook of the Month. I'm writing it in ink directly in the book. Thanks, Amuse Bouches.

                                                                  2. I made the chicken bouillabaise for dinner tonight. I used a whole chicken, cut up, minus one breast, and I added a step. I browned the chicken in my Dutch oven then removed and poured off the excess fat before adding the onions to the same skillet. I like to do this with soups, more flavor. I also removed the skin from the browned chicken pieces before returning them to the soup. (I knew I wouldn't have time to defat the soup well, and just used paper towels to get the slickest bit before serving.) I also opted for the toasted bread with a garlic clove brushed over, instead of making aioli, as we're trying to be a little less excessive at present.

                                                                    Rave reviews from the family! Next time I would use all dark meat, as she mentions that first in the ingredient list, as a preference, I take it. The breast meat is just no comparison to the dark in soup, even holding it out until 30 minutes before the simmering's done, as she noted. The texture of the dark is succulent and yummy.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: amyzan

                                                                      I made the chicken bouillabaisse last night and it was delicious. It was easy, but I think the one-hour simmer means it's too time-consuming for a weeknight dinner (for me -- I get home late, typically).

                                                                      This isn't one of Rodgers most amazing dishes, but like everything I've made from the book, it was at least very, very enjoyable. (I love this cookbook. I hope she does another one.)

                                                                      Anyway, I too browned the chicken first. I wish I had removed the skin before returning the pieces to the pan. I'll do that next time.

                                                                      I thought it was strange that she calls for four chicken legs, about 8 oz. each. That's a damn big chicken leg! I used six thighs, a total of 2 lbs.

                                                                      I also upped the amounts for the broth -- about 1.5 times the onion, tomatoes and stock. It was still not overly soupy at all.

                                                                      I had aioli leftover from a meal a few days ago. It really added to the dish, making it luscious and rich. The first bite of aioli-topped toast with the broth was divine.

                                                                    2. Salmon Cooked With Flageolets, Bacon and Red Wine

                                                                      I made this for dinner on Sunday, with a couple of changes. I had some beautiful corona beans, so I used those instead of flageolets (about 1 cup dried)--I'd say that was a successful change, even though the corona beans are quite different. I also used canned chicken broth instead of stock, dried thyme instead of fresh, and olive oil instead of butter (the version as written has a decadent amount of butter). Even with these substitutions, the recipe came out great, and I'll definitely make it again. We had leftovers last night, and the beans had absorbed most the wine sauce and tasted even better. In fact, I might try this again without the salmon, and maybe cook the beans in the sauce for a longer period.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Nettie

                                                                        Salmon cooked with Flageolets (lentils), bacon and red wine

                                                                        I couldn't find flageolets (found them the day I was going to make this, but having already gotten some nice french lentils decided to stick with those, as she says they're a fine sub) and I used turkey bacon instead of regular (I know, I know). I really really loved this a lot. So did Lulu, who couldn't get enough. The fish was silky smooth inside, and the lentils were so savory and wonderful. I used a pretty plonky red and it was still wonderful. This book has been a huge hit with me.

                                                                      2. Roast Chicken with Bread Salad:

                                                                        I subbed carrots for the currants. I then realized that pine nuts and the sweetness from the carrots made an amazing combination.

                                                                        1. Guinea hen with Madeira, bay leaves and dates, p. 355:
                                                                          If anyone wants to branch out from the famous chicken recipe, do try this one.
                                                                          I had a guinea hen in the freezer. It was an impulse buy at a specialty butcher a while back. I'd never cooked a guinea hen before. I'd never eaten it so far as I know. One thing I'll say is that once I thawed the thing and unwrapped it, there were quite a few feathers left. I'm not used to that with chicken or turkey. I tried to remove them with tweezers. I was not entirely successful.

                                                                          The recipe has very specific instructions for cutting it up into pieces, which I could not quite follow. Maybe if I had someone show me how to do it. You're supposed to cut off the legs and wings and then cut the breast meat off the bone. Instead I just cut the bird into legs, wings, breast and back pieces, all on the bone. I salted the pieces and left them in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for 24 hours, per the recipe.

                                                                          You're supposed to pre-heat the oven to 500 while first searing the guinea hen pieces on the stove. The recipe says to cook them in an oven-proof 12-inch skillet. I definitely couldn't fit that many pieces of fowl in one layer in one pan. So I browned the pieces in two cast iron skillets and popped them in the oven. They didn't take long, at that heat. Then you deglaze the pan with madeira and stock and add dates _ which I love _ and orange zest. There are also bay leaves and whole cloves or allspice berries.

                                                                          To sum up, I had a little trouble following the recipe. But it was worth it. This was some of the best poultry I've had. Between the fact that guinea hen has more flavor than chicken to start with, and the salting, and the high-heat roasting, this was one flavor-packed bird. My picky daughter said, "What is this?" Because it looked just different enough from chicken to arouse her suspicions. But even she liked it! I'll make this again.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                            Thanks for posting. I bought a frozen guinea hen at Whole foods this week because it's something they only had as a holiday specialty. (couldn't afford the damn pheasant) I intend to cook it Sunday, but I'm wondering if the bird is greasy at all (like duck?) I've had so much fat this holiday/travel season, i don't know if I can deal with another fatty meal.

                                                                            1. re: danna

                                                                              Guinea hens are very lean. I usually wrap them with bacon before roasting.
                                                                              BTW: Tastes like pheasant....LOL

                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                great news on both counts. and I have the Zuni book AND some dates in the pantry. Looks I need to buy some Madeira. thanks.

                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                  I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did. I agree, lean and similar in taste to pheasant.

                                                                          2. (Chicken) Bouillaisse, Pg. 348

                                                                            We subbed turkey thighs for the chicken legs in this dish and it was delicious even though we didn't season the meat for 12-24 hours as recommended but for 4 hours.

                                                                            A chopped onion is cooked in EVOO for 5 minutes. Bay leaf, thyme, a "small dried chili" and a small amount of dry white wine are added and cooked for a minute. Then, saffron, chopped garlic, chicken stock are added and brought to a simmer. The {chicken} is added to the pot then all is "simmered quietly" uncovered for an hour. How easy is that??

                                                                            To serve a slice of peasant-style bread is grilled and smeared with Aioli (the recipe follows in the book), a slice of chicken is placed on top and some of the pan broth is ladled over. I served this with sautéed chard and the Soubise from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. A delicious meal for a frigid New England evening.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              We're making the chicken and bread salad for dinner tomorrow night. The salted chicken is in the fridge now. But I was surprised to see that the greens are put in the oven when I read through the bread salad recipe today. My sister makes a great bread salad for Christmas every year and it isn't heated. I suppose the greens get a little wilty? I guess all the positive reviews speak for themselves -- I was just surprised. Any thoughts?

                                                                              1. re: karykat

                                                                                Just for the record, I see that I misread the instructions when I asked my question a couple days ago. Of course, the greens don't go in the oven. I think I may have put a bit too much oil on the bread when making the bread pudding, but that wasn't critical. The chicken had a wonderful flavor and great crispy skin. And the salad was very good.

                                                                                But the smoke! I don't have a good vent and we ended up with one very smoky kitchen. (I was sort of expecting that based on the other reviews but my sweetheart is getting over a really bad cold and could not stand to be in the kitchen.

                                                                            2. I am FINALLY making the Zuni roast chicken. Can't believe it's taken me so long!
                                                                              So I picked up a good quality bird, although it is 4.5 lbs., will dry brine for two days.
                                                                              Just rubbed it down with the salt and pepper, and stuck some thyme under the skin.
                                                                              So, that's a LOT of salt, no? I seem to underseason my whole birds for roasting, but holy moly there's a lot of salt on this bird!
                                                                              I almost held back, but then I said screw it, live and learn. Hopefully I will learn that the amount is perfect, lol.
                                                                              Taking it up to my friends farmhouse on Friday, where I'm sure the ventilation system is better than my own. Also planning on the bread salad with a chicory salad to cut the richness.
                                                                              It's 2010 and I am finally doing the Zuni bird!
                                                                              Any advice/encouragement is appreciated.

                                                                              Finally learned to upload a photo! No stopping me now!

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: rabaja

                                                                                If you salted as the recipe stated, don't worry (especially with a bird that size). We shook our heads in disbelief when we salted our Zuni chickens, and they turned out great. Noone felt the chicken was oversalted. We did three birds at once; it was a big undertaking but totally worth it. Almost two months later and it's still a topic of conversation. I can't wait to make it again.

                                                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                                                  I've made the Zuni chicken a half dozen times at the very least and only once did I think it was oversalted. That was when I used quite a small bird and brined for thee days.

                                                                                  The only tip I have, and I don't recall now whether it's mentioned in this thread or not and I'm too lazy to go look, is that if you pour out the fat each time you turn the chicken the smoking will be minimal. In fact, I just made it the other night in a kitchen that has a barely functioning exhaust fan and I was a bit concerned. But I poured out the fat when I turned the chicken and there was practically no smoke at all.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Thanks - invaluable advice! Why didn't I think of that . . .

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      or put some onions and potatoes in the bottom of the pan when you do the flipping for smoke reducing caramelized fatty deliciousness.

                                                                                    2. re: rabaja

                                                                                      Success! Well, of course it was, everone loves this chicken right?
                                                                                      I was seriously concerned though. The two days of dry brining had given the chicken a cured exterior and I could imagine a salty/dry disaster and pizza delivery in our future as I slid the 4.5 pounder in the 475-500F oven.
                                                                                      The smoking was minimal, we only set off the smoke alarm once and then we covered it with a zip-loc, but really, not too much smoke!
                                                                                      I flipped it as instructed, cooked it a total of 45 minutes and then I let it rest while I obsessed over how dry and stringy the breast meat would be.
                                                                                      -I showed up at my friends house in Sonoma with this chicken and plans for the bread salad and little lettuces to go with. If I failed here, there would have been many pairs of hungry, dissapointed eyes on me. I didn't feel the pressure one bit.
                                                                                      Bread salad was easy and delicious. Unfortunately I left my currants and pine nuts on my kitchen counter back in SF, so I had to make do with chopped up and plumped sultanas and alas, no nuts of any kind. -We had almonds but decided not to break them out.
                                                                                      This bread salad was a great addition, and deceptively easy! I made the dressing and poured the chicken drippings over the bread as well, as instructed.
                                                                                      My friend has a farm up North and is currently growing beautiful lettuces, so we were spoiled with freshly cut arugula and curly cress. These went perfectly.
                                                                                      Oh yes, the chicken! So moist and so well seasoned. I have truly never made a roast chicken that was so perfectly seasoned, all the way down into the breast meat.
                                                                                      Not too salty, and perfectly moist.
                                                                                      The downside of discovering the fabulousness of this recipe? I will never again want to do roast chicken off the cuff, without dry brining for at least a day.
                                                                                      The flip side, I can't wait to make it again! Even the leftovers the next da were good, cold, eaten out-of-hand.
                                                                                      And I am not usually a fan of leftover chicken.
                                                                                      Thank you Zuni, and thanks to everyone who encouraged me here.

                                                                                      1. re: rabaja

                                                                                        Sometimes you get even more of the flavours with left over brined/cured chicken. I often sprinkle in some rosemary with the brine/rub and I don't taste the rosemary so much until the next day when it's cold.

                                                                                        Am currently making a quick mini bread salad with juices from a roasting duck. It'll be interesting to see if it's a bit too much.

                                                                                        1. re: rabaja

                                                                                          Thanks to your post jfood made one last week as well and remembered why he spent so much time trying to make the roasting smoke free. the end result is just so darn good.

                                                                                      2. Love the Zuni chicken. High heat is pretty important. Just make sure your oven is reasonably clean before you start and things will work out ok.

                                                                                        1. Quail & Sausage Braised with Grapes - pgs. 361-3

                                                                                          Mr bc had never tried quail before so when I saw these little birds at the St Lawrence Market before Christmas I just had to get them. Despite looking like a complicated dish in the book’s photo, this dish is surprising simple to pull-together and, very tasty indeed. This is the first time I’ve braised with fresh grapes and I’m looking forward to using this technique again as, in my view, the grapes were really the star of the show. I’d love to make this again in the fall when I can still get fresh, black Niagara grapes at the farmer’s market. Nonetheless, my small, sweet-tart Argentinean red grapes were perfect w the quail and sausage making for a truly memorable dish. My only complaint was minor, regarding aesthetics; the red grapes just don’t have enough pigment to stain the quails in that beautiful mahogany color you see in the book’s photo.

                                                                                          The birds are seasoned w salt 24hrs in advance then patted dry along w fennel sausages just prior to browning in olive oil. Grapes are added to fennel seeds that have been warmed ‘til fragrant in olive oil. Grapes simmer until they yield some of their juices and make a sauce that’s added into the pan w the fully browned sausages and quail. While the book has you cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the meats are cooked, I chose to put the covered pan in the oven @ 300 for about 20 minutes.

                                                                                          What emerged was a fragrant, succulent, saucy dish with tons of flavor thanks in part to the juices rendered by the sausages. The grapes were just scrumptious with the quail and the sausage. This may not have been pretty but what it lacked in beauty, it more than made up for in taste. We’d definitely make this again.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                            This sounds great. My daddy used to hunt quail and dove but I've never cooked them. I see quail (frozen) regularly and then wonder what I would do with them. Now I know. BTW, what did you serve them with?

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Yes, I'd definitely encourage you to give it a try c o, no trouble at all to make and my birds de-frosted and cooked up w no trouble at all.

                                                                                              We started w a lovely squash soup from the Zuni cookbook, I'll post a link if you want to take a look. As for the quail dish, the book suggests you serve it w soft polenta but mr bc isn't a fan so I served w mashed potatoes which seemed to go well w the dish.

                                                                                              Here's the soup link:


                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                I have the cookbook, thanks. I love polenta and that was my first thought. I do an oven-baked one. I'm pretty excited about this recipe. Soon.

                                                                                          2. Made the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad over the weekend and it definitely lived up to its hype! My husband loved it and thought it was one of the best dishes I've made (he also liked Dorie Greenspan's Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux). Definitely a keeper!

                                                                                            1. Some 6-7 years later, and after much procrastination, I have finally made Zuni Roast Chicken and Bread Salad.

                                                                                              I purchased the book only recently and pretty much due to the buzz surrounding this particular recipe.

                                                                                              I used a 3.3 lb. chicken from the market, and dry-brined it for about 30 hours before cooking. Everything pretty much as per the recipe (although I cut the croutons with a knife, instead of tearing them).

                                                                                              Between the two of us we cleaned the platter, with pleasure.

                                                                                              My only regret is I wish I had turned the chicken "legs down" on the platter before taking the photograph!