The Accidental Zuni-like Chicken!
Had a hankering for roast chicken for tonight's dinner.
This afternoon needed to pick up a chicken to roast so went over to Whole Foods which is the most convenient market to my house at the moment(causing me to develop a real love/hate relationship with the place). They had "organic air chilled" chickens on sale...so picked one up.
Brought it home, salted liberally added some pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika.
Preheated oven to 500 as I usually start my chickens at this temp and then turn down to 325 after about 15 minutes at the high heat. Stuck chicken in, set timer. Timer went off, came in stuck probe in and...
forgot to turn oven down. I was confused when the thermometer alarm sounded much earlier than it should have. This was when I discovered I'd roasted my chicken at 500 degrees for 40 minutes!
Pulled it out...let it rest, carved it. well, well well...it was really juicy and tasty! the skin was super crisp and tasty as well....
No flipping and no dry brine like the Zuni recipe...but whatever "air chilled " actually implies , it meant it had a nice dry skin when I brought it home...and the accidental very high heat....
I was afraid I'd have a total disaster on my hands but instead it was a very good Zuni like chicken.
Thanks to your post, I got the idea to use some smoked paprika on my roast chicken last weekend. I made a loose paste consisting of smoked paprika, garlic powder, olive oil, lemon zest, a squirt of lemon juice, and some dried herbs. Massaged all over the bird, sprinkled all over w/ S&P, and let marinate at room temp. for about an hour before roasting. Would have been even better overnight, but needed dinner on the table that night...
Roasted at 425F on a bed of assorted potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts for about 45 min. I thought about higher heat but didn't want to deal w/ potential smoking. Let the veggies continue roasting while the bird rested for 15 min.
Not as transcendent as the Zuni chicken w/ its ultra crispy skin and deeply penetrated flavor from dry brining, but this one had a special something w/ the seasoning blend. Nice way to infuse flavor if I don't have time to preseason/dry brine a day or two in advance. The 3.25 lb. bird was incredibly juicy w/ nice compact texture to the flesh. I couldn't get enough of the roasted brussels sprouts and carrots. The best of Sunday comfort food to get the week off to a good start!
re: Carb Lover
Glad your chicken turned out well! We've really learned to love smoked paprika on our chickens. I'll have to remember to try brussel sprouts in the roasting pan next time...I've never done that and it sounds delicious! The picture is making me drool even though we just finished dinner ourselves(French onions soup tonight).
I did a roast chicken like this once from a recipe that called for it to be baked on a 1" bed of rock salt (to absorb the fat and prevent smoking). The only drawback is that there were no pan juices. Wa-a-a-ahhh. Chicken was good, but not so much better that I did it again. I hated loosing all the crispy bits for making gravy.
Sounds like a happy accident! I'm always thinking of ways to use up my smoked paprika; did it burn or taste bitter from the high heat?
I wish I could roast chicken around 475-500F, but my oven will smoke like crazy so I often resort to turning down to closer to 450F.
re: Carb Lover
No, the smoked paprika didn't burn which surprised me as well.
I've never tried the Zuni chicken at home because of the prolonged high heat...I've always been afraid that keeping the temp high for a prolonged period would make the house really smoky and I worry about my canary. I will say after we walked our dogs last night when I came back in the house I realized there was some smokiness hanging in the air but fortunately the bird doesn't seem worse for wear this morning.
We used to have an African Grey so I understand worrying about cooking fumes and smoke. I have read a suggestion here on CH to reduce smoke---put potatoes or veggies encircling the chicken so the fat is absorbed or pour out the pooled fat a couple of times during roasting. Now I have a hankering for roast chicken w/ potatoes...