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Jan 10, 2007 02:31 AM

help - is it worth trying to roast a zuni chicken with 4-5 hours of seasoning time?

i've made the zuni chicken before, and had vaguely planned to serve it to friends tomorrow - but i was feeling sick today and didn't make it to the grocery store. if i get a chicken tomorrow morning, will it be worth trying to zuni it? sigh. i am thinking i probably just have to do something else, but was wondering if anyone has tried salting it for such a short time... thank you!

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  1. i have and it still turned out pretty good. the dryness of the skin is the most important factor, so i made sure to pat the chicken very well. i also stored it outside so the breeze would dry out the chicken quicker (only on a cold day of course). you could probably do this same thing with a fan.

    1. hmm - i'll try that! unfortunately i live in manhattan and have no outdoor space... and i don't have a fan... but i'll work something out.

      1. You can roast a perfect chicken without the Zuni ritual. I do all the time.
        The Zuni method really depends on high heat roasting more than anything else to crisp the skin so stick with that. I've done it with turkeys, and although it makes a major mess of my oven, it turns out a perfect bird in a lot less time. I don't brine or salt for days.
        I rub the chicken all over with a mix of olive oil, salt, pepper, puréed garlic and thyme. Under the skin, up as far as I can get it into the area of the thighs and definitely over the breast meat. I use my cast iron skillet and sometimes place the chicken on a bed of veggies which give a great flavor to the drippings. I don't even bother to flip the bird, so to speak.
        If your chicken doesn't have a few ounces of skin perfectly crisped to match what you did the last time, it really won't matter. It will still be a delicious home-roasted chicken, your house will smell wonderful, and everything will work out fine.
        A simple roasted chicken is probably as easy a meal as anything you could do since you haven't been feeling up to par. Zuni, Schmuni. Relax.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MakingSense

          I agree, MakingSense. My experience with Zuni is that Judy can make it seem that SO MUCH DEPENDS on whatever cooking process she employs, but well, for those of us with a life outside of the kitchen it simply isn't possible to prep that way.

          Like MakingSense, I use a hot cast-iron skillet, and I like to include fresh rosemary and thyme as well as garlic (never tried pureed, bur sure, why not?), etc.

          1. re: 280 Ninth

            Good point. Sombody pointed out elsewhere on CH, that the author also omits the "minor" detail of the wood-fired oven at the Zuni Café, which makes more than a minor difference in the roast chicken.
            I figure I have to be adaptable since I don't always have the same amount of time or maybe I'm cooking in a strange oven - like in a vacation condo.
            The Spirit of Zuni is the important thing.

            1. re: MakingSense

              actually in the intro to the chicken recipe, she does mention the oven (i think she calls it brick), but says that this is not the most important aspect and that she has roasted a ton of chickens in an old O'keefe and Merritt stove back in the day

        2. It will be fine, although it won't be quite as flavorful as if you had pre-seasoned 1-2 days in advance. Using the high heat method and pairing w/ the bread salad, it will still be very tasty and impress your guests.

          1. thanks for the tips, guys! i'll give it a go and let you know how it went. i had prepared a zuni chicken with proper salting time before, so i'll be able to compare results.