Serves 4 to 6
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS San Francisco’s famous Zuni Café
serves a rustic dish that has become legendary: roast chicken with
deeply bronzed skin and juicy meat over a warm bread salad that’s
chewy, crunchy, and moist all at once. We longed to create a version
for the home kitchen, so we started by butterflying a whole chicken
and salting it overnight so it would cook quickly and evenly and be
juicy and well seasoned. We covered the bottom of a skillet with bread
cubes that we had moistened with oil and broth and then draped the
chicken on top and roasted it. The bread cubes toasted and browned
beneath the bird while absorbing its juices to create a mix of
moistened, crispy-fried, and chewy pieces packed with savory flavor.
To finish the dish, we built a vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, oil,
currants, thinly sliced scallions, Dijon mustard, and chicken drippings
that we tossed with peppery arugula and the toasted bread. Note that
this recipe requires refrigerating the seasoned chicken for 24 hours.
This recipe was developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you
have Morton Kosher Salt, which is denser, put only ½ teaspoon of salt
onto the cavity. Red wine or white wine vinegar may be substituted
for champagne vinegar, if desired. For the bread, we prefer a round
rustic loaf with a chewy, open crumb and a sturdy outer crust.
1 (4-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
3½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
4 (1-inch-thick) slices country-style bread (8 ounces),
bottom crust removed, cut into ¾- to 1-inch pieces (5
¼ cup chicken broth
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil,
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons dried currants
5 ounces (5 cups) baby arugula
1 Place chicken on cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut through
bones on either side of backbone; discard backbone. Do not trim off
any excess fat or skin. Press down on breastbone to flatten.
2 Using your fingers, carefully loosen skin covering breast and legs.
Rub ½ teaspoon salt under skin of each breast, ½ teaspoon under
skin of each leg, and 1 teaspoon salt onto bird’s cavity. Tuck wings
behind back and turn legs so drumsticks face inward toward breasts.
Place chicken on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet or on large
plate and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours.
3 Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
Spray 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil spray. Toss bread with broth
and 2 tablespoons oil until pieces are evenly moistened. Arrange
bread in skillet in single layer, with majority of crusted pieces near
center, crust side up.
4 Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place, skin side up, on top of
bread. Brush 2 teaspoons oil over chicken skin and sprinkle with ¼
teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast chicken until skin is
deep golden brown and thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees
and thighs register 175 degrees, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through roasting.
5 While chicken roasts, whisk vinegar, mustard, remaining ¼
teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper together in small
bowl. Slowly whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil. Stir in scallions and
currants and set aside. Place arugula in large bowl.
6 Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 15
minutes. Run thin metal spatula under bread to loosen from bottom of
skillet. (Bread should be mix of softened, golden-brown, and crunchy
pieces.) Carve chicken and whisk any accumulated juices into
vinaigrette. Add bread and vinaigrette to arugula and toss to evenly
coat. Transfer salad to serving platter and serve with chicken.