Roast Chicken with Warm Bread Salad

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

cups)

¼ cup chicken broth

6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil,

divided

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.