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LivingFood and DrinkZuni Chicken (Roast Chicken with Bread Salad)

Zuni Chicken (Roast Chicken with Bread Salad)

by Susan Hanna

This delicious recipe from Food and Wine is based on the classic roast chicken with bread salad dish from Zuni Café in San Francisco. Stuff garlic and thyme under the chicken skin, sprinkle with salt and pepper and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24-48 hours. This dry-brining technique results in beautifully seasoned meat and crispy skin. Bake cubed bread for the salad and toss the croutons with salad dressing, scallions, garlic, currants and pine nuts. Then bake the bread salad for about 25 minutes and set aside. Roast the chicken in a cast-iron skillet and while it rests toss the pan drippings with the bread salad in a large bowl. Add greens and more dressing to the salad just before serving. Serve the chicken with the bread salad. Cook’s note: I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, raisins instead of currants and baby arugula for the greens.

Serves 4.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Eden Organic red wine vinegar to soak the currants and also for the dressing. Ace Bakery bread is usually free of additives. Check the currants and pine nuts to be sure they are free of sulfites and other preservatives. For more recipes using all-natural ingredients, visit Eye For a Recipe.


Roast chicken

  • 1 (3 ½ – to 4-pound/1.6-1.8 kg) free-range whole chicken
  • 4 (4-inch/10-cm) thyme sprigs
  • 4 small garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 3 ½ teaspoons (17.25 ml) fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) black pepper

Bread salad

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) warm water (90°F to 110°F/32°C to 43°C)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried currants
  • ¾ cup (187.5 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Champagne vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3.75 ml) fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper
  • ½ pound (226 g) day-old, open-crumb, chewy, rustic bread loaf (not sourdough), cut into large (2-inch/5-cm) chunks (about 2 ½ cups/635 ml)
  • 4 medium scallions (about 2 ounces/56 g), trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise (about ¾ cup/187.5 ml)
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1 tablespoon/15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pine nuts
  • 4 cups (1 L) lightly packed greens (such as chicory, escarole, or radicchio) (about 4 ounces/113 g)


Make the roast chicken

Gently loosen skin from chicken breasts and thighs using your fingers. Stuff thyme and garlic under skin, spreading in an even layer. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken. Place chicken on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours.

Make the bread salad

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C). Stir together 1 tablespoon (15 ml) warm water and red wine vinegar in a small bowl; add currants, and soak until plumped, about 10 minutes. Drain currants; set aside.
  2. Whisk together ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil and Champagne vinegar in a small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss together bread and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet until well combined. Bake in preheated oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 12 minutes, flipping bread once halfway through baking time. Let stand on baking sheet until cool enough to handle, 5 to 10 minutes; tear bread into smaller, bite-size (1- to 1 ½ -inch/2.54- to 3.8-cm) pieces. Toss bread with three-quarters of dressing (about ½ cup/125 ml) in a large bowl, and let stand until bread absorbs liquid, about 15 minutes.
  4. Heat ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) olive oil in a 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron skillet over medium-low. Add scallions and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in pine nuts. Transfer to bowl with bread. Add currants and toss until well combined.
  5. Spoon bread salad into a shallow 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil; bake in preheated oven until heated through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until tops of bread cubes are dry and bottoms are lightly browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 500°F (260°C). Wipe skillet clean, and transfer to oven to preheat for 8 minutes. Remove heated skillet from oven and add remaining 1 ½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) oil to hot skillet, swirling to coat. Pat chicken dry, and carefully place in skillet, breast side up. Roast until juices run clear when a thigh is pierced using a knife and an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest portion of breast and thigh registers at least 160°F to 165°F (71°c to 73°C), 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, and let rest, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  7. Tilt chicken and cutting board over skillet and drain juices into drippings. Skim fat from juices in skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-low; stir and scrape bottom of skillet to soften any hard golden drippings using a wooden spoon, about 1 minute. Return bread salad to large bowl; drizzle with a spoonful of pan juices, and toss. Add greens and remaining 3 tablespoons (45 ml) dressing; fold until well combined.
  8. Cut chicken into pieces. Arrange bread salad mixture and chicken on a platter. Serve immediately.

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