Some recipes you try once. Maybe it’s the sexiness of the accompanying photo in the cookbook or magazine you first see it in, or fantasies of pulling together an elaborate dish for your friends that draws you to the recipe in the first place. Although it’s good to go through the process of executing a complicated recipe, those are not the ones you go back to or dream about when you’re really craving something GOOD….at least, not me.
The recipes I go back to time and time again are ones that produce rustic comfort food. Ones where I’ve toyed with certain ingredients or techniques to make an already fantastic recipe more my own. Ones I don’t even have to look at since they’ve simply become a part of my cooking repertoire.
One recipe that is the king of this category is the Zuni Roast Chicken, and I have no doubt that it has secured it’s place in the hearts of cooks the world over. Why? First of all, what could be more comforting than a roast chicken, the smells permeating your house while it cooks in the oven? Second- there is nothing better than a favorite comfort food perfected, and the Zuni Roast Chicken is the most perfect roast chicken you’ll ever eat. I know that’s quite a grand statement, but I tell you- it’s true.
Now I do tweak the recipe a bit, depending on my mood or herbs that I need to use up in my fridge. However, I always make sure to follow a couple of key steps that make this recipe so perfect. Make sure you wash the chicken and dry it with paper towels thoroughly. Season the bird a day or even two days in advance, cover it and let it sit in your refrigerator. When you season make sure you massage the salt and pepper into both the skin and underneath the skin without breaking the skin. Preheat a cast iron pan (what I use) or roasting pan until it’s raging hot, then put the bird breast-side down and put the whole thing into the (very hot- 475 degree) oven. Roasting time depends on the size of your bird but a smaller bird works best.
These techniques create the crispiest, tastiest skin and moistest, most savory meat on a roast chicken you’ll ever have. The addition of some finely chopped thyme, rosemary and parsley rubbed under the skin (like I did last night) only adds to the flavor but it’s perfectly fine without. Served with another old standby (and Tuna Toast original) of Sautéed Green Beans with Mushrooms and Balsamic Carmelized Onions, it made a perfect supper and J and I found ourselves sucking the bones clean. The original recipe includes a bread salad (in which to rest the bird on while cutting it so the juices all soak into the bread....oy, I'm hungry again!) which I know I'll get around to making one of these days but the bird itself is so good that I'm totally satisfied for now!
Super upclose and unglamorous photo of Sautéed Green Beans with Mushrooms and Balsamic Carmelized Onions
Old classics are the best, aren’t they?!?!
(PS- sorry for the unglamorous photos but when a you have such a good lookin’ bird sitting in front of you, eating becomes the priority, not taking the photo!)