“Thanksgiving” in February! Seriously, that’s what these looked like on the plate! This is the best crispy chicken I’ve made to date, hands down. Also, I hate to admit it, but this was my best home-cooked meal in a long while…I mean, in years. And yes, I roasted two birds in a conventional oven at the same time — so, you can too. 😉 After great success with my initial attempt at the Zuni chicken recipe, I thought I’d make some modifications to simplify the process. A couple of major points:
- No need to turn the bird(s) over halfway through the cooking process (which is a pain in the ass anyway). The skin is beautifully browned and crispy!
- No need to wait 2-3 days before you can cook it. I let these birds brine for 1 day (overnight).
- 4.5 pound birds work just fine. The original recipe calls for 3.25 – 3.50 pound birds, but don’t mind that, a heavier bird works fine — just make sure it cooks all the way through (165 degrees internal temp).
- Salt generously when using sea salt. For the brine and after the brine (all in between patting these birds dry).
- Scrape the fond and deglaze your cast irons to pour it back into your bread salad. Your chicken doesn’t need the “gravy” because it’s already moist, juicy, and flavorful. Your bread salad will be elevated to a whole new level with the simple addition.
fine sea salt (coarse ground into fine)
herbs de provence / other herbs
Red wine vinegar
Here was my modified process:
- Pat chicken dry. Salt (and season, optionally) chicken generously with sea salt 1 day before serving. Place in cambro container with lid slightly ajar.
- Next day, heat oven to 500 degrees. While oven is heating, pat chicken dry again and salt generously again.
- Prepare bread salad: toast almonds in cast iron skillet, cut off all bread crusts and tear into pieces, toss with olive oil and bake in oven at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 C cranberries and balsamic and red wine vinegar with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix in bread and almonds. Pour into pie plate and set aside. Dice leeks and brussels sprouts. Salt and allow it to sit at room temp.
- Re-heat cast iron skillet on stove and place chicken breast side up in each cast iron skillet so that it sizzles.
- Place skillet in oven for 15 minutes then turn oven down to 475 degrees for another 15 minutes. For the last 30 minutes, turn oven down to 450 degrees. No need to turn bird over (yay!).
- Remove chicken from oven, place on a wire rack while separating the chicken fat from the fond. Add a couple tablespoons of water and scrape the fond from the skillet, pour over bread salad.
- Add some chicken fat to the skillet and saute leeks and brussels sprouts. Add some chicken fond, red wine vinegar, and s&p. Pour over bread salad and place in 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.