Wednesday, December 31, 2008

zuni roasted chicken with bread salad

This recipe from Zuni Cafe exemplifies turning simple ingredients into something fabulous. The recipe does take time and careful planning, but done right it's really almost a breeze. Thanks to Jenn, I got to try this last Christmas. This year I pulled it out for my Christmas dinner and actually had everything on the table in an hour.

First, the recipe calls for dry brining a bird by rubbing it down with salt, pepper and herbs, then letting it sit in the fridge for a day or two. Traditional brining method involves finding a big bowl and submerging the chicken in a sugar salt solution, aka salmonella sloshing around your fridge. Dry brining = way easier, and equally juicy, flavorful meat.

Next, cube up a nice loaf of bread and toast it. The recipe says to trim the crusts, but I choose to ignore this. Soak some currants or cranberries in red wine vinegar. This is KEY. The balance of sweet and sour gives your salad bright accents of addictiveness that contrast well with the heaviness of the meat. Then mix up a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar (go heavy on it), and white wine vinegar. Soften some garlic and scallions and toss with the bread.

When the chicken is done, carve it up, toss a handful of mixed greens with your bread, currants, toasted nuts, and more vinaigrette and enjoy together.

I used a loaf of levain from Angela's Oven. If you happen to live in Houston, you can find them at the Tuesday farmers' market at Rice, or at the Saturday Richmond or Onion Creek markets. They're lovely people with lovely baked goods. I also subbed rice for white wine vinegar with tasty results, and go heavy on the currants and toasted nuts. If you are like me and burn pinenuts with infalliable regularity, try toasting walnuts instead, which are a) cheaper and b) less prone to incineration.

Find the recipe here.

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