Sunday, December 21, 2008

Zuni Roast Chicken

The Zuni Café has been on my short list of restaurants to try since I bought a copy of the Michelin Guide over a year ago. (And no, I do not eat at Michelin Star restaurants all the time. The book has a lot of great recommendations for moderately priced restaurants, and I have quite a penchant for food guides.) Somehow it keeps getting passed over for other restaurants. I’ll see a place I want to try on "Check Please Bay Area," or we’ll call too late to get a reservation and end up eating somewhere more local, etc. – it just hasn’t happened.

Upon delivery of my most recent CSA box, I went to the library to check out Chez Panisse Fruit for the second time, and I saw a copy of The Zuni Café Cookbook. Since the Zuni Café is known for its use of seasonal ingredients, I went ahead and grabbed it, too. The Zuni Café is much lauded for its Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, so when I saw it in the book, I knew must make it. Later that night I was browsing the internet, and saw that the inimitable Deb of Smitten Kitchen had just posted about the Zuni Roast Chicken! She had lovely pictures of the chicken and salad, along with reassurance that the recipe is worth your while.

I made the recipe several days later and it was fantastic! I don’t usually get overly excited about chicken recipes, but this is an exception. And the chicken part is actually very simple; you just have to salt the bird a day ahead of time (my second bird is in the refrigerator as I type this) and not get too scared by chicken crackling on high heat. The bread salad is wonderful, too, though not essential to the enjoyment of the chicken if you aren’t in the mood for an involved side dish. If you would like the recipe, I would recommend going over to Smitten Kitchen, where there is an excellent abbreviated version of the original four-page recipe. Or purchasing The Zuni Café Cookbook, which is definitely on my wishlist this Christmas – I have made three recipes from my library copy in the past week, which makes it a keeper.

This recipe rates a 10 for D and a 4 for E, giving it an EDR of 2.5. Eloise agrees, too. She always stops by the kitchen to check what I’m working on, but this is the recipe that she has been most interested in. And hopefully I will dine at the restaurant one day, but for now, I am happy to make this terrific dish in my own home.

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