Zuni Cafe's Roasted Chicken
Definitely one of the BEST chicken recipes in our repertoire! There is a little extra planning time, as you begin the salting/drying process 2 days early, but it is actually quite simple to assemble and oh-so worth it!
One small DV Farm chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Step #1: Season the chicken (1 to 3 days before serving; give a 3-1/4 to 3-1/2 pound chicken at least 2 days).
Remove and discard any fat from inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough — a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.
Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.
Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.
Step #2: Prepare your oven and pan
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle (we used a 12-inch cast iron frying pan for a 3 1/2 pound chicken). Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.
Step #3: Roast the chicken
Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove chicken from the oven and let rest at least 10 minutes. Very important! The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools. Drain the flavorful drippings from the bird and the pan for the delicious juices and/or make a gravy, if desired.
Thanks, Deb, for this awesome recipe!!! Personally, it was soooo good, I would definitely make two small chickens at a time and enjoy the leftovers!