Inspired by the writing and recipes of Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe. Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.
For The Roast Chicken
1 chicken, 2.5 - 3 pounds
4 soft tip-sprigs of thyme or rosemary, each about 1-inch long
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
For The Bread Salad
8 ounces rustic bread, thick sliced
olive oil, as needed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves
A few handfuls of arugula or similar greens washed and dried
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For The Bread Salad Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon dried currants
1 tablespoon finely minced red onion or shallot
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
¼ cup hot chicken drippings, from roast chicken
To Make The Roast Chicken
A day or two before you intend to roast your chicken, sprinkle it all over with kosher salt and a little black pepper. A 3 pound bird will use about a tablespoon of kosher salt. Slide an herb sprig under the skin pocket of each breast and thigh. Tuck the wingtips behind the neck but do not truss your bird.
Refrigerate chicken, lightly covered, for 24 hours to 3 days. This gives the salt an opportunity to season and tenderize the meat.
An hour or so before you want to start roasting your chicken, and about two hours before you want to eat, preheat your oven to 475-degrees and bring your chicken out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes, until quite hot. Place the resting chicken, breast-side-up, in the hot skillet. It should sizzle. Transfer immediately to the hot oven. If your skillet isn’t well seasoned, and you worry about sticking, add a bit of olive oil or lard to the skillet just before you add your chicken the the skillet.
Roast chicken for about 40 minutes to an hour, until fully cooked but still juicy. The skin should be beautifully golden and paper thin across the thigh, and the thigh joint should feel lose.
When chicken is cooked, carefully tip the bird so the cavity is down and drain the juices from the chicken. slash the skin between thigh and breast to let out any trapped juices there. Transfer chicken to a platter to rest. Whisk the pan juices in the skillet to release any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then transfer juices to a small bowl and set aside for the bread salad. You should have about ¼ cup reserved juices; if you have more, save extra for another purpose.
Prepare the Salad
While chicken is roasting, prepare the bread salad.
For the vinaigrette, add the currants and minced red onion to a bowl. Add red and white vinegar and set aside for about ten minutes, to allow currents to plump. Then, add dijon mustard and olive oil and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
Brush all bread slices liberally with olive oil and salt to taste. Place toast slices under a preheated broiler or in a dry skillet set over medium heat and toast until golden brown. Some darker and lighter spots are fine.
When toasted bread is cool enough to handle, tear into rough, bite-sized hunks. Some larger and some smaller pieces are fine. Put toasted bread pieces in a large bowl.
Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan. Add the smashed garlic cloves and pine nuts and warm all over medium heat until the pine nuts are toasty but not burnt and the garlic has softened.
Add garlic, pine nuts and any olive oil from the pan to the bowl with the toasted bread pieces. Set aside until you are ready to finish the salad.
To finish salad, gather the bowl with the toasted bread, the vinaigrette, the reserved pan juices from the roast chicken and several handfuls of arugula.
Toss the bread with the chicken juices and vinaigrette and stir to combine. You want the bread to soak up those juices, so give it a minute if needed. Add in the arugula, toss, and taste for seasoning. Adjust by adding salt, pepper or a tiny splash of red wine vinegar if needed.
Serve the chicken pulled into pieces, over the bread salad. Good hot or room temperature.
Recipe by Northwest Edible Life at http://www.nwedible.com/2013/12/of-dead-heroes-and-roast-chickens.html