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May 1, 2007 05:42 PM

making Zuni chicken right now (question?)

My first timemaking it..I got kind of a funny/odd recipe online..This is the part I don't
quite get...

3. Set oven to 425. Roast chicken for 30 minutes. Turn chicken back side up for another 20 minutes. Let stand while you make the salad dressing.

Does "back side up" just mean flip the chicken over and then roast it for 20 more minutes?

any other tips?


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  1. The actual recipe is about 3 pages in the cookbook. But, you set the oven HIGH, she may suggest up to 450 (I am not looking at it now), roast for 30 or so minutes, check to see if it is getting crispy. You flip it over for another 20 or so and then flip back to the original side for 5 or so minutes to crisp it up. It is delicious but worth checking out the cookbook from the library/bookstore, etc as the online recipes leave a lot out.

    5 Replies
    1. re: roxhills

      Thanks so much, I'm not sure why I panicked it was just a very poorly worded recipe.
      I understand that there is some protocol about this recipe and that it would be better to buy the book.I looked for the book but really just wanted to try the recipe after reading the raves here. One thing; I used sherry vinegar instead of champagne vinegar I used less but it may have been a mistake (didn't have any champagne vinegar I understand they are very different..) I may have also used a little too much salt but I didn't add any after the chicken marinade. I don't know..It was good even very good but not amazing (sorry!) This could all be attributed to the recipe and the way I (mis)interpreted it but i'd like to hear what it is that people LOVE about this recipe. Then I could maybe determine what I need to change for next time.

      We are making soup from the remains..I will add the bread at the end. I think this will be really good. I'm going to add a mirepoix and maybe some mushrooms. I'm really a soup person though. I found the recipe to be pretty heavy..husband like it alot said it
      was good "upscale comfort food". More sacrilege..I might use craisins next time instead of currants and more of em. I'm curious as to what you all think about all this..

      1. re: cherrylime

        For me, this recipe's crave-worthy results are about the 2-3 day dry-brining, the high heat roasting, and the bread salad (which I may enjoy more than the chicken itself).

        Some questions and comments for you:

        1. Did you dry-brine for at least two days? It's still ok if it's just one day, but not as deeply flavorful, in my experience.

        2. What temp. did you end up using? 475F is what's suggested in the book. You're supposed to turn the oven down if it starts smoking too much, but when I've roasted at an even 450F the entire way through, I didn't get the same crave-worthy results. Note: It should smell like addictive caramel corn while roasting and drive everyone in the house to hungering madness.

        3. What kind of pan did you use? It needs to be relatively snug-fitting and be kinda shallow to allow for good heat circulation.

        4. Champagne vinegar is key, IMO. It's a little pricey (I use Sparrow Lane from Napa) but lends such a wonderful flavor and balance. I don't always use currants and have subbed in dried cranberries. Did you use the greens?

        There are some really poorly written Zuni chicken and bread salad recipes out there, but there are a couple that seem fine. I guess it's possible that you could do all of the above and still not LOVE the results, but then you'd be insane, in my book. ;-)

        1. re: Carb Lover

          I think i may not have had the oven hot enough..I was at 425 but usually w/my
          wolf I've found that that really means 450, so I was gunshy. Also the "snug" pan thing..I just used a 9x17 baking pan. I have a staub dutch oven that might work..the sides are about 5". I need to get champagne vinegar..I had a new $30 bottle of sherry vinegar so i used that. I brined for just one day.

          I did use the greens and it really was good..I'm just wondering about the mythical magical aspects of this recipe (which you elaborated on very well CL..)

          One thing is, for as long as I can remember and before I was even born, my family has been serving this mandatory raisin dressing w/ thanksgiving dinner. Really amazing. Has anyone ever stuffed the chicken with part of the bread mixture? I know you're not supposed to do that anymore (right?) but we do it every thanksgiving. I was expecting it to taste like that almost like pudding..

          1. re: cherrylime

            I use an all clad 10 inch frying pan and it works perfectly. I also have wolf ovens and I use the convection and cook it at 450.

            1. re: cherrylime

              I have never tried stuffing the bread salad into the bird, but I like the chewy, dry texture of the non-stuffed bread salad. As far as stuffing, I'm not so concerned about safety issues as much as the fact that the bird roasts less evenly and takes longer, which can contribute to dryness. If you try it, less us know how it goes.

              I wouldn't use the Staub since the sides are too high. I typically use a 10" cast iron skillet, but the pan that's given me the best results was a Calphalon hard-anodized that had a flared lip.

              Oh, and I typically use more greens than the recipe calls for.

      2. I think the champagne vinegar makes a difference. In fact, all the little bits and pieces of this recipe come together for the whole, so as others have said, it is worth doing it just as she writes in the book (though the recipe is a pain in the neck to read; I photocopied the four pages and keep meaning to condense it; but her little details *are* important). There's a lot of tasting the bread salad as you go, and that is important. I think the chicken is great, but what really makes this dish stand out is the salad, and that has a lot of different components (the currents, the lightly cooked scallions and garlic, the champagne vinegar, etc.) In the end, roast chicken is roast chicken; this is a good roast chicken (that forces me to clean my oven every time after I make it).