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ZUNI CAFE

m
Michael Wright Jan 8, 2006 06:58 PM

I recently ate at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco and it was an awesome meal. The atmosphere is great! I highly recommend the Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad!

  1. t
    The Blissful Glutton Jul 31, 2006 08:09 PM

    I make this dish quite often at home. You can use a big green egg to duplicate the smokey flavor if you like. I just roast it and it is fabulous.

    3 Replies
    1. re: The Blissful Glutton
      g
      Gerard Aug 22, 2006 09:12 PM

      "You can use a big green egg to duplicate the smokey flavor if you like."

      This sentence can be mystifying if you don't know this (and I didn't):

      http://www.biggreenegg.com/

      G

      1. re: Gerard
        g
        Glenn J Aug 22, 2006 09:26 PM

        A Weber Smokey Mountain cooker will accomplish the same results at 1/3 the cost as long as one uses lump charcoal.

        http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/

        1. re: Glenn J
          ChowFun_derek Aug 22, 2006 10:58 PM

          Can the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker get up to 500 degrees and keep it there for the full cooking time? My regular gas Weber has a built in thermometer...does the Smokey?
          Thanks

    2. s
      samejeep Jul 31, 2006 08:08 PM

      that is a fair point. the chicken is made to order in their wood burning oven, but there really isn't too much wood flavor imparted to the chicken. it's done well, but it's not anything that can't be duplicated.

      4 Replies
      1. re: samejeep
        Robert Lauriston Aug 22, 2006 09:27 PM

        The recipe's in the cookbook, but without a wood-burning oven it doesn't taste the same.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          d
          djh Aug 22, 2006 10:10 PM

          imo its the pre-salting that makes the difference, not the wood burning oven. Hardwood charcoal and some oak or hickory chunks in a grill (or even chips on gas grill) will get you all the smoke you need. The lengthy salting is the step that most home cooks, including me, frequently omit, and what gives the in-restaurant dish the difference.

          And lest we get too concerned over the taste of the chicken, its the bread salad and the combination of textures and flavors that brings everything together ... the one without the other isn't the same, and I think the bread salad can be more difficult to perfectly recreate than the chicken. But why try when you can order it at the restaurant? When I use the recipe at home, I treat it as a process that rewards experimentation. When I want the original, I go back to Zuni. Either way, I am rarely disappointed.

          1. re: djh
            Robert Lauriston Aug 22, 2006 10:19 PM

            I always brine or presalt poultry.

            I don't have a wood oven or a gas grill, and have not had good luck trying to use my charcoal grill as an oven. I have a smoker but that'd be a very different dish.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              d
              djh Aug 22, 2006 10:36 PM

              The Zuni cookbook calls for presalting the chicken for 2-3 days before cooking, which requires way more advance planning than most home cooks will use, and which contributes greatly to the in-restaurant dish.

              If you want to follow the recipe exactly, it can be difficult to get a charcoal grill or smoker up to the recommended 475-500 temperature and keep it at temp throughout cooking. I've come close by building the fire in the main box of my offset smoker and watching the temp pretty closely throughout. I've also had good luck using the indirect method on my gas grill (with wood chips). But now we're getting into a topic for the Home Cooking board. :-)

      2. Frosty Melon Jul 29, 2006 05:15 PM

        I had a leisurely lunch at Zuni last weekend, and as with all prior experiences, service was nothing less than great and highly professional.

        1. s
          samejeep Jul 29, 2006 04:45 PM

          i went to zuni last night with a group of 4 and we had an excellent meal. we walked in fairly late and did not have to wait long for a table.

          the roast chicken was great, as good as roast chicken can be. i would certainly recommend it, but, it's not life changing -- it's simple, nicely prepared, and delicious and certainly enough for two, as they advertise. in the end, though, remember you are just having well prepared chicken, and it's likely something you've had before, or something that you could whip up you own kitchen.

          the service, as has been mentioned, was rather stand-offish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: samejeep
            Robert Lauriston Jul 30, 2006 04:10 PM

            Zuni's chicken is a fairly simple dish, but without a wood-burning oven there's no way I could duplicate the flavor at home.

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