Heavenly Roast Chicken Dinner: Kale Salad, Torn Rye Bread Croutons, Chicken Drippings Vinaigrette, Lemony Potatoes
See this heavenly roast chicken prepared from start to finish in this video
The method used is loosely based on Judy Rodgers’ famous Zuni Café, in you pre-salt the bird 1-2 days beforehand. I think it yields the tastiest chicken on the planet: juicy and flavorful with a lovely crisp skin.
One 3-4 pound whole, organic chicken (no larger!)
6 sprigs of thyme
6 sprigs of tarragon
2 garlic cloves
1 scant tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the gizzards from the cavity, if included, and discard. Pat the chicken dry using paper towels. Season all areas, including the cavity, with salt and pepper. Place the herbs, garlic cloves and lemon half inside the cavity. Place chicken breast-side down into a shallow baking dish and lightly blanket the chicken with paper towels (do not tightly seal in plastic wrap). Refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. One to two hours before roasting, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Note: For crispier skin, I lightly pat the entire chicken dry once it comes out of the fridge (as condensation occurs during refrigeration), and flip the chicken breast-side up to allow better air circulation while it is coming to room temp. Preheat oven to 400º F. Place a large, empty cast iron skillet into the oven as it preheats.
3. When ready to roast, carefully place the chicken, breast-side down, into the hot (empty) cast iron skillet. Return the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for 30 minutes. (Work on the rest of your dinner prep, like the potatoes and salad components, while the chicken is in the oven.)
4. After 30 minutes, carefully flip the chicken (I suggest gripping it from the cavity with a pair of kitchen tongs) and return it to the oven to roast for an additional 25 minutes. Remove the pan from oven and let the chicken rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully transfer the chicken to a plate to continue to rest for an additional 10 minutes before serving. Pour the collected chicken drippings into a heatproof container and set aside for your vinaigrette.
Chicken Drippings Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Reserved chicken drippings (at least ¼ cup)
¼ cup warm water added into the pan, scraping up any remaining bits of chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
Red chile flakes, such as Calabrian chiles to taste (optional)
In a medium bowl add the Dijon, vinegar and lemon juice and whisk to combine. While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper and chile flakes, if adding. Continue whisking, slowly adding the chicken drippings into the vinaigrette as well as the additional water mixture. Taste and reseason as needed.
Roasted Lemon Potatoes
10 fingerling potatoes, washed and dried thoroughly, sliced in half lengthwise
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped parsley
1. Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. Lay them out in a single layer on a heavy duty sheet pan and set aside to roast during last 15 minutes of the chicken roasting.
2. Once they are done cooking, they should be fork-tender and golden brown. Carefully remove them from the sheet pan and place into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and chopped parley. Toss and transfer to a large platter to serve.
As in Judy Rogers’ version, this salad is all about the bread (and the dressing). The croutons absorb all the warm chicken drippings and offer a satisfying, flavorful crunch.
1 large bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed, ripped into bite sized pieces, washed and dried thoroughly
1 head frisee, snipped into bite sized pieces, washed and dried thoroughly
2 inner celery ribs and leaves, sliced thinly
8 kumquats, washed and dried thoroughly, halved and cut crosswise into thin slices, seeds discarded
3 cups rye bread torn into 1-inch sized pieces, either staled overnight or toasted in a 350º oven until golden brown and left to cool
15 tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Chicken Drippings Vinaigrette, recipe to follow
Assemble the greens in a large bowl. Add the celery, kumquats, croutons and tarragon, season with salt and pepper, and toss to distribute. Right before serving the meal, dress the salad with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add additional vinaigrette as needed/ and serve more on the side for dipping (because it’s just that good).
Arrange the potatoes and salad on a large platter. Cut the chicken into pieces and place atop the potatoes and salad, pouring any last accumulated juices over top. Serve with any extra chicken drippings vinaigrette on the side.