Zuni Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad

Serves 4.
Prep Time:
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Helpful Equipment:

cast iron skillet

The classic Zuni roast chicken served with a bread salad.

Recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.


The bird:

1 small chicken, 2.75-3.5 pounds
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage (I went with sage.)
Kosher salt
Black pepper

The salad:

8 ounces slightly stale, chewy bread (not sourdough).
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons dried currants
Red wine vinegar (to soak the currants in)
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, slivered
1/4 Cup scallions, slivered
2 Tablespoons chicken stock (if you don't have fresh, just use lightly salted water which is what I did. Worked great.)
A few handfuls of greens. I used frisée and found it to be too bitter. I would try arugula next time.


For the chicken:
Start with a small bird. Anything over 3.5 pounds will take too long to cook all the way through. Too much moisture will be lost.

1) Pre-seasoning. Salt the bird at least a day (I did two days) before you intend to cook it.

2) When you get your bird, insert your sprigs of herbs under the skin around the breast and thigh. Just work a small opening between the flesh and skin and make a little cavity. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Then rub salt and pepper all over the bird. Probably about a Tablespoon of kosher salt per pound. Let the chicken chill in the fridge, loosely covered, for at least a day.

3) When ready to cook the chicken, preheat oven to 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit with a cast iron skillet in the oven. No need to truss the bird, but do tuck the wings back.

4) After the oven is heated and ready, add bird to pan, breast-side up. It will sizzle like crazy. Roast for 30 minutes.

5) After 30 minutes, remove bird and carefully flip it so it’s breast-side down now. Return to oven to roast for another 20 minutes.

6) Remove bird and flip one last time, returning to breast side up. Roast for another 15-20 minutes until the bird is cooked through, about 165 degrees in the meatiest part of the thigh.

7) Total roasting time will probably be a bit over an hour. Remove bird after that and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Bread salad:
8) While the chicken roasts you can prepare your bread salad. Cut bread into large chunks and sprinkle with olive oil. Roast or broil these guys until they are crispy. If you have any super-charred pieces, just cut them off.

9) Soak currants in a drizzle of red wine vinegar. Toast pine nuts in a pan over low heat until they are fragrant, just a few minutes. Whisk oil and white wine vinegar together to form a quick vinaigrette.

10) Warm the garlic slivers and scallions in a tablespoon of oil over low heat in a small skillet. They should fry or brown, just warm slightly.

11) Tear your bread into large uneven chunks and add most of your vinaigrette. Toss it and taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed. Add your currents, pine nuts, scallions, and garlic slivers.

12) While your chicken rests, pour off a few tablespoons of the drippings in the pan and pour them over the bread salad.

13) Chop your chicken into breast and thigh portions and nestle the pieces into the bread salad. Serve immediately!