roast chicken

Oven Mitts and Potholders

by Anne Maxfield on June 24, 2019

Oven MittsOven mitts and potholders are one of those things you take for granted.

If you’re of a certain generation, you probably made them in camp, weaving bands to make potholders (remember that?).

Or you bought them ages ago because you liked the design. It went with your kitchen.

And they were fine until…

You went to pull out the Zuni roast chicken and found out, to your horror, that they don’t work.

Or, more recently, you were testing the Baguette Baking Box at oven temps exceeding 450°.

Whether they melted onto my (almost) perfectly seasoned cast iron pan or just didn’t offer enough protection for a long enough time, it became a real issue in my kitchen.

After ruining several contenders, and almost either burning myself or dropping dinner, I started to search the Internet.

Melted PotholdersThat’s when I found out that most oven mitts don’t work on temperatures over 400°. Even ones that reputedly did, like the ‘Ove’ Glove which is advertised to have heat protection to 540°, let me down. It might have been able to handle the heat, but it was impossible to tell because the printing on the gloves melted into the handle of my pan.

Even my favorite review site, Wirecutter, didn’t test them on temperatures over 400° and while I’m pretty fast in the kitchen, their criteria for approval was a mere “10 seconds while holding a heavy pan, which we think is a reasonable amount of time to remove hot items from the oven or stove.”

I don’t know about you, but while I’m juggling a very hot and heavy pan, I’d prefer to focus on the job at hand and not worry about an imaginary shot clock going off and turning my mitts into meltdown.

In search of a better (read, more to my liking) response, I moved on to that most trustworthy source—the Internet, specifically Facebook. People offered up lots of advice, most of it useless. However, my brother said to sit tight and wait for my birthday.

His gift? A pair of killer mitts. These babies can take on anything up to 572° and I don’t have to worry about that imaginary shot clock while I’m crisping chicken or baking baguettes.

My second choice and good for most everyday tasks are a well-worn (and slightly melted) pair of KitchenGrips potholders that are supposed to be good to 500° (but only on one side…) and bought because they went with my kitchen.

What do you use?





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.




Stepping Away and Saying Goodbye

by Anne Maxfield on July 28, 2014

Accidental Locavore L'Ami Louis InteriorWhat happens when a chef steps away from the stove? In the case of a couple of the Accidental Locaovore’s old favorite restaurants, it may be time to say adieu. Long ago, it was the death of chef Antoine Magnin  of L’Ami Louis in Paris that took it from being where I would, without doubt, choose my last meal from, to just being an extraordinarily expensive roast chicken (and where I have had my last meal from).

Recently, it happened with one of our favorite restaurants in Maine, Cafe Miranda. About a year ago, Kerry decided to stop cooking on a nightly basis to focus on other projects. While we’ve had meals there in the past with someone else manning the line, this was the first time we were unknown to the staff.

Accidental Locavore View From the BarThe bar at Miranda has always been the best place to sit, eat and watch the mad dash between the chefs and the wood-burning oven. Watching Kerry in action we all picked up lots of ideas, tips and skills, from hitting an ear of corn with a blow torch (corn brûlée – tastes like popcorn!) to using tongs as an extension of your hand. In the midst of this, he’d be shouting orders to sous and staff and everything hummed on in a skillful example of controlled chaos. If he didn’t feel you were paying enough attention he would resort to shenanigans, like shooting a stream of oil into the fire, until you were once again focused on the show in front of you. And the food was nervy, inventive, fun and delicious!

This night, there was chaos, but of the messy and sloppy sort. Once we were seated, there was a long wait, and then a request, which finally brought menus and water. Bread was withheld “until you order.”  There was no show, just a couple of extremely harried cooks, trying to put ingredients on plates. At one point we counted eleven dishes pulled from the flames, stacked, sitting and waiting to be finished.

My appetizer of pork belly and kimchi was lukewarm despite the fact that the pork belly was almost singed beyond recognition. This would prove to be the mantra of the evening, with almost everything from my husband’s pork chop to my Dan Dan noodles being overcooked and swimming in oil. Kerry always boasted about the “fat delivery system” in some of the dishes, but under his hand, you wanted all the fat and then some!

Accidental Locavore Cafe Miranda ExteriorThe unfortunate thing about restaurants is that no matter how stellar the past, one mediocre meal often means you don’t go back. Especially in this case, when it’s a once or twice a year event and you know the chef isn’t cooking anymore. Sorry Kerry, but we missed you and we’ll miss Miranda.