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Mar 27, 2009 03:47 PM

Zuni chicken help

I am going to try making the Zuni chicken tomorrow for the first time (actually my first time roasting a chicken). I have a just over 2-lb chicken, which I guess is on the small end of the Zuni size range. Does this mean I should up the temperature and reduce the cooking time?

What size roasting pan should I use? Does it matter if it is much bigger than the chicken? I was thinking of roasting some potatoes with the chicken. Should I put them around or under it? I'll be salting/herbing tonight and cooking tomorrow, so any other tips for this Zuni virgin are most welcome!

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  1. I can never do 475, it will smoke in any oven I have roasted chicken. I always go for 450, though I guess some people have success with 475/500.

    I think she always gives a range, like 10-20 minutes for each step. There are 3 steps: when you initially put it in, the first flip, and the second flip. I would just do the minimum time on each of those. I've always used a large-ish cast iron skillet which is bigger than the chicken. Always comes out fine.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jaykayen

      I like the cast iron skillet too. It helps prevent the chicken juices from burning, which is great so you can make the fantastic bread salad.


      1. re: Amuse Bouches

        Unfortunately I don't own a cast-iron skillet (though it's on the list for my next cookware purchasing expedition...). Anyway to prevent the juices from burning in the roasting pan? I don't plan to do the bread salad but would like to use the juices (which I assume are fat) to roast potatoes.

        1. re: mayache

          To keep my apartment from smoking up, I pour off the fat in the pan each time I turn the chicken. You might try pouring the fat into a Pyrex dish and then browning the potatoes in that dish. The potatoes should take less time than the chicken, especially if you parboil them first until they're almost cooked through. I'd cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks, parboil them, dry them in the oven for a bit, and then roast them in the chicken fat for the last half hour you're roasting the chicken.

      2. re: jaykayen

        To prevent the chicken fat from smoking up the oven while cooking at high temperatures, lay slices (1/4" and doubled layered) underneath the chicken to absorb the fat that is causing the burning. (I use a broiler pan and put the potatoes beneath on foil and the chicken above on the rack at cook at 500.) The potatoes are a hit.

        1. Whenever I make Zuni chicken I crank my oven almost up to 500. Just follow her directions--start at 475 and watch the chicken to see if it's browning. I always use a bird around three pounds and go the middle of the cooking times. Since yours is just over two, I might shave a minute or two off of the shortest times. As for cooking vessel, I just use a regular old skillet.

          1. Report back. (Having made it for the first time a month ago I'll be interested in your experience.)

            1. I've made the zuni recipe using two 2.5 lb birds using a sheet pan with maybe a 1-2" lip around the sides without issue. This recipe does create a lot of smoke from the juices splattering against the oven door, so you may want to consider building an aluminum foil wall around your pan. I followed the directions exactly but used a meat thermometer to make sure we didn't overcook, and I think it might have taken whatever the lower threshold was (45 mins?) for the total time range given. Just keep an eye on the bird an you'll be fine - ours came out delicious.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kasiav

                I've wondered about cooking two chickens at once. Did you need to increase cooking times at all?

                1. re: meleyna

                  nope - do note that they were two birds half the size of the one called for by the recipe, but we observed the 'lower' cooking time provided in the range for each step (ie 10 - 15 mins was 10 mins for us). Birds came out excellent, cooked very quicky - keep a meat thermometer on hand to see if your meat is done early.