Zuni Café Roast Chicken Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on April 6, 2017

Accidental Locavore Zuni Roast Chicken The roast chicken from Zuni Café in San Francisco is legendary.

The Accidental Locavore has never had it, and funnily enough, my friend in SF who has eaten there many times hasn’t either.

It’s on her list now.

I’ve been making this recipe for a while and it just keeps getting better and better! The skin is amazingly crispy and the white meat stays juicy.

You need time – at least overnight, a couple of days is better – and space in your fridge.  It’s worth it.

Zuni Roast Chicken

  • 1 chicken (small and a really good chicken is best here)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, rosemary, or sage about 1/2” long
  • Salt and pepper

Seasoning the chicken:

1-3 days before roasting, rinse the chicken and pat it really dry, inside and out. Be thorough, you need the chicken really dry to get the crispiest skin.

Gently slide your finger under the skin on each breast, loosen and make a little pocket on each side. Using your finger, push an herb sprig into each pocket.

Turn the chicken over and do the same on the outside skin on each thigh.

Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Put on a paper towel-lined plate, cover loosely and refrigerate.

Accidental Locavore Zuni Roast Chicken PrepRoasting the chicken:

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450-475° (see below).

Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or a 10” skillet with a metal handle (I use my cast iron pan). Preheat the pan over medium heat.

Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It will start to sizzle.

Place it in the center of the oven. It should start to brown and sizzle within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, gradually raise the temperature until it does.

The skin should start to blister, but if it begins to char or there’s a lot of smoke, drop the temperature by 25°.

After 30 minutes (total time), turn the chicken over and roast for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size. It should be golden brown and the skin should look crispy.

Turn the bird over again and recrisp the skin—about another 5-10 minutes. Total cooking time 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove from the pan and let rest. Carve, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: The instructions sound a little difficult and intimidating at first, but if you make it more than once (and you will), it’s actually pretty easy. It makes such a great roast chicken, it’s really worth it!

Accidentally, I left the chicken drying last week, a day longer than anticipated, and the skin was the crispiest it’s ever been, so if you can give it 3 days, do.

The size and quality of the bird really matter here. It’s so good, you’ll be tempted to do a bigger bird, but if you can keep it to about 3 pounds, that’s ideal.

When you’re seasoning it, use more salt and pepper than you think, it just enhances the flavor!

Be very careful pulling the chicken out of the oven to turn it–I’ve melted more oven mitts with this dish! There are very few oven mitts or pot holders that are safe after 400°. Even using two together, while I didn’t get burnt, there was the smell of neoprene starting to melt. So far, the best one is a monster mitt my brother sent me.

When I flip it over the first time, I often add some partially cooked chunks of potato and/or some Brussels sprouts (also partially cooked) to roast under the chicken. While you don’t always get enough “stuff” to deglaze the pan after, the potatoes roasted in the chicken fat, really make up for that!

Oven temp: Depending on your oven and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the oven temp as high as 500 or as low as 450 to get it to brown properly. I’ve been doing it at 450° convection roast and have been getting great results. With a bigger chicken, you might have to kick it up a bit and/or give it a little more time.

 

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My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories

by Anne Maxfield on April 3, 2017

Why was My Paris Kitchen a highly anticipated cookbook?

The Accidental Locavore has long been a fan of David Lebowitz.

If you’re not familiar with him, David is an American chef and food writer living in Paris. His blog is a great source of info on food, restaurants and the day-to-day quirkiness of living in Paris (and points beyond).

Up until this point, the books have dealt mostly with his specialty – pastry and baking. And even though I’m not any kind of baker, I’ve bought his books just for the writing.  So I was thrilled to learn that his latest book, My Paris Kitchen, was going to be more of a “real” cookbook and even more excited to get an advance copy to peruse.

Even reading it on my iPad (not my favorite way to look at cookbooks), it was easy to see that in print this was going to be a beautiful book with great photos.

The only downside? It’s going to make you want to drop the book and get yourself on the next flight to Paris!

And even though I don’t read cookbooks very thoroughly, I began at the beginning with My Paris Kitchen and actually read through the first few chapters – which was kind of a revelation, because David really explains his methodology and the rationale behind the recipes.

Now did I remember any of it when I went to make one of the chicken recipesAccidental Locavore My Paris Kitchen Mustard ChickenNot at all, but the dish turned out great!

Of course, there’s the usual must-haves for gear and pantry, but what makes David’s approach so  informative, are his comparisons between what he thought would be easy to find in Paris (and wasn’t). What the French take for granted vs. what we take for granted; as you might expect, for the most part we come up lacking.

As he says, “It’s easy to make good food with good ingredients, because most of the work is done for you.” I agree!

The introduction to many of the sections and some of the recipes will seem familiar to followers of the blog. You may or may not remember the chase for cheese in the Jura, when the car skidded off the road, but it’s certainly well worth re-reading. The book is traditionally organized by courses, with a pantry section at the end to give you David’s take on the basics.

Accidental Locavore My Paris Kitchen Olive ToastsI guess the good news/bad news part about reading this on an iPad is that you can’t dog-ear the pages with the recipes you want to try, so when my real copy arrives (thank you Julie!), I’m going for the Chicken Lady Chicken (which has a great hint for making a paste of garlic and salt!), as well as the Salted Olive Crisps, the Scalloped Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Garlic, and so much more. This is definitely going to be one of my go-to cookbooks!

Update: As expected, this has become one of the cookbooks I reach for over and over again. Along with the recipes mentioned, I’ve made his salted caramel chocolate mousse and green beans in the style of escargots. And unlike a lot of cookbooks (and recipes), nothing has come out less than great! Rereading this, I realize that I still haven’t made the scalloped potatoes, or one of my favorites when I took his cooking class at DeGustibus, the Parisian Gnocchi. Hmm…time to get cooking!

Let me know in the comments–how do you keep track of recipes you want to try? 

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Steak au Poivre Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on March 30, 2017

Accidental Locavore Peppercorns for Steak au PoivreUntil fairly recently, steak au poivre was one of those dishes I never understood.

Too many peppercorns, disguising one of my favorite flavors – steak.

Then in Nice, I had an attitude-changing steak au poivre.

A perfect amount of peppercorns, cognac and cream.

Enhancing, rather than masking the essential steak flavor.

Accidental Locavore French Steak au PoivreIn the mood to recreate it I tried to find a simple recipe. Since Alton Brown is usually unbelievably obsessive, his recipe looked like what I was longing for. Serves 4:

Steak au Poivre Recipe

  • 4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Cognac plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Accidental Locavore Peppercorns on Steak au PoivreRemove the steaks from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Sprinkle all sides with salt.

Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, or the bottom of a cast iron skillet.

Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the steaks into the pepper until it coats all the surfaces. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.

Remove the pan from the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and very carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tablespoon of Cognac, taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore My Steak au PoivreMy verdict: First of all, be very careful when you’re setting any alcohol on fire (and always hold the pan away from yourself)!! Even though I was really paying attention, the height of the flames was a little scary.

We had a mystery steak in the freezer that I used for this. Something local and not Skittle-fed. I’m not terribly fond of tenderloin and the French generally use entrecôte which is sort of similar to a strip steak. In other word, while it wasn’t the best steak, it wasn’t the steak’s fault.

Because I wasn’t sure what it was, I coated it with the crushed peppercorns—some good ones I had brought back from France and cooked it sous-vide (125° for 90 minutes if you’re interested). Perfectly cooked.

The sauce was another story. I’m not sure what the problem was. I used good ingredients (and followed the recipe) but it was pretty ho-hum. Certainly nowhere near life-changing!

Do you have a good recipe for steak au poivre, or any suggestions?

 

 

 

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Skittles and Steaks

by Anne Maxfield on March 27, 2017

Accidental Locavore Skittles RainbowHere’s a new way to get your red Skittles fix.

Eat a steak.

What could Skittles and steaks have in common?

It’s not that they both start with “s”.

The first has been used as feed for the second.

Yup, you read that right.

But these aren’t just any Skittles.

They’re red (and were missing the “s”)

And no one would have known about it.

Except.

Wait for it.

In January they fell off the back of a truck.

Could I make this stuff up?

This is from CNN: “The sheriff’s department later found out that the Skittles fell off a truck that was hauling the red candies to be used as cattle feed.

Yes, they’re feeding candy to cows — and they’ve been doing it for years.

A former farmer told CNN affiliate WBAY that candy makers and bakeries often sell rejects to be used as cattle feed because they provide “cheap carbs.”

The practice goes back decades, but it picked up steam in 2012 when corn prices were surging and cattle farmers were looking for a cheaper way to keep their cows and other livestock fed.”

I know that calorie-wise, a carb is a carb, but there’s something really disgusting about the thought of cattle chowing down on truckloads of strawberry Skittles.

Actually, there’s something really disgusting about the thought of anyone chowing down on massive amounts of Skittles.

“Mars, the company that produces Skittles, has already confirmed that the candies found on the ground were Skittles and that they were deemed unfit for human consumption. This begs the question: If they “didn’t make the grade for human consumption,” how can they be safe for animals to eat? (They’re not.)”

The AP has this to say: “Josh Cribbs, a cattle nutritionist and director of commercial development for the American Maine-Anjou Association, which promotes a particular cattle breed, said that the food byproducts that get used for cattle feed vary depending on what’s available in the region and particular time of year. Cribbs said specific byproducts would be mixed with other ingredients to achieve a particular nutritional profile. “You might think, ‘Oh my gosh, they might be eating a Skittle.’ In reality, that piece of candy is being broken down,” he said.”

Yeah, that’s a “particular nutritional profile” I want to be eating.

Accidental Locavore Cow Without SkittlesThink I’ll stick to local, grass-fed beef—it tastes better and I know where it’s coming from.

What’s also interesting in a conspiracy theory sort of way, is you can no longer access either the National Geographic report on the accident, the CNN affiliate WBAY or the Dodge County Sherriff’s Office Facebook page.

Hmm…

Maybe the NY Post put it best—“ taste the rainbovine.”

 

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