chicken with bread salad is adapted from the Zuni Cafe
my best cleaning when I am on deadline. Oh, yes. As the time
counts down to turning in an article or a presentation, you’re
more likely to find me wiping baseboards then pounding on
the keyboard. Tax documents to sort for my sister, the
accountant? Sorry, sis, the new vacuum beckons.
Sunday afternoons, when I should play office email catch-up,
all the laundry sits clean and neatly folded mere inches
from the ignored laptop.
my recipe repertoire includes reliable, sure-to-please
favorite dishes that help me focus on the task at hand. I
simply turn on the oven in readiness for a family dinner and
get back to the computer.
often than not, chicken takes center stage for these
dinners, due in no small part to the late Judy Rodgers. I
first ate her chicken and bread salad at the Zuni Cafe in
San Francisco in the early 1990s and have been making some
version of it at home ever since. She details the steps for
her famous dish in the 2002 "Zuni Cafe Cookbook"
(W.W. Norton, $40).
Sunday supper version simplifies the restaurant dish with
plenty of do-ahead steps. I also add more vegetables to the
pan. Rodgers calls for currants; I toss in any dried fruit
on hand. For the accompanying bread salad, I prefer the
heartiness of whole grain bread — loaded with sunflower
seeds, sesame seeds, rye flakes, oats and flax seeds — to
less toothsome white bread.
can’t get to the bakery, I sub in whole wheat pita breads,
cut into wedges and then split apart. An even speedier
alternative is to use 6 cups (9 ounces) pita chips. When
time is short, I replace my homemade vinaigrette with a
top-quality bottled salad dressing.
roast two chickens at once — every time. The leftovers
transform weekday meals. I serve them rewarmed with barbecue
sauce, diced over main-course salads and as soup additions.
wrote about the virtues of small chickens — about 3
pounds. Known as broiler/fryers, these once ubiquitous-size
chickens now often need to be special-ordered. For some
reason, chicken producers have decided that the North
American penchant for chicken breast must mean we want those
large breasts in our roasters. No way. Those popular 5- or
6-pound roasting chickens prove nearly impossible to cook
properly. Small chickens have a higher ratio of meat to
bone; the bones absorb the heat and help the chicken cook to
several specialty chicken producers offer small birds. I’m
particularly enjoying Just Bare young whole chickens from
GNP Co. in Minnesota. Its organic chickens come from farms
in Indiana and Michigan and are traceable to the farms by a
code on the package. Mine, purchased at my local Mariano’s
supermarket, came from western Wisconsin.
second go-to oven-baked chicken is a riff on Diana Henry’s
Parmesan chicken. Henry uses boneless skinless chicken
thighs and rolls them up to bake for 40 minutes. (She
includes the recipe in her new book, "Simple.") I
make a speedier version with chicken tenders. Again, I make
extra. These moist morsels taste great over a hearty salad
of baby kale and romaine lettuces with yogurt Caesar salad
dressing. Or tuck them into a sandwich with a thick slice of
tomato or pickle.
in the oven — no excuse not to finish my work.
CHICKEN WITH BREAD SALAD
be put off by the prep time here; several of the steps can
be done in advance. I make double or triple the quantity of
the poultry herb seasoning and store the mixture in a jar in
a cool, dry place; that way, it’s ready whenever I want to
tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt
teaspoons dried basil
teaspoon each, dried, leaf: oregano and thyme
teaspoon each: freshly ground black pepper, crushed red
whole small young chickens, also known as broiler/fryer
chickens, weighing 3 to 3 1/2 pounds each, giblets removed
(1-pound) hearty multigrain bread (not sliced)
cup olive oil
cup dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins or diced
tablespoons balsamic vinegar
cup thyme vinaigrette, see recipe, or bottled vinaigrette
medium (1 pound total) zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise,
cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
bunch (12 ounces) kale or lacinato kale, tough stalks
discarded, leaves torn into large pieces, about 10 loosely
cup thyme vinaigrette, see recipe, or bottled vinaigrette
poultry herb seasoning, mix salt, basil, oregano, thyme,
black pepper and crushed red pepper in small bowl. Store in
a covered jar up to 2 months.
Rinse chickens well. Pat dry with paper toweling. Tuck wings
behind back. Put into a large roasting pan or 13-by-9-inch
baking dish. Sprinkle all sides and the cavity with the herb
blend. (Seasoned chicken can be refrigerated, covered
loosely with wax paper, up to 2 days.)
Heat broiler. Cut bread into 1 1/2 inch chunks; you’ll
have about 8 cups. Put into a single layer on a large baking
sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and toss to coat. Broil,
turning often, 1 minute; flip and broil again until lightly
charred, crisp and toasty on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes
total, depending on broiler. Don’t walk away, or the bread
will burn — really. (You can do this up to a day in
advance; store in a covered container on the counter.)
the cranberries and balsamic vinegar in a small dish. Let
stand covered at room temperature up to several days.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Pat the chicken pan dry if it is
not. Roast the chickens breast-side up, 20 minutes. Gently
loosen them from the pan and flip. Roast breast side down,
20 minutes. Loosen and flip again. Add zucchini to pan.
Roast until chicken juices run clear, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Turn off oven.
While the chicken roasts, put half of the kale and 1
tablespoon water into a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover
with plastic wrap vented at one corner. Microwave on high
(100 percent power), 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander, and
repeat with remaining kale.
tongs to tip chicken, so juices run back into the roasting
pan. Put chickens on a cutting board. Tent the chicken with
foil, and let rest, 10 minutes.
a small ladle to skim off excess fat from pan juices. Stir
kale, bread cubes and soaked cranberries into remaining pan
juices. Stir in enough vinaigrette to lightly moisten
everything. Put the pan of salad into the still-warm but
turned-off oven while you carve the chicken.
Carve each chicken into two breast halves, two thighs, two
drumsticks and two wings. Serve the chicken pieces
accompanied by the warm salad.
vinaigrette: Mix 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil with 2
tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon each: salt,
pepper and dried thyme leaves.
information per serving: 776 calories, 43 g fat, 9 g
saturated fat, 166 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 11 g
sugar, 60 g protein, 999 mg sodium, 5 g fiber
PARMESAN CHICKEN ON ROMAINE
from "Simple" (Mitchell Beazley, $32.99) by Diana
Henry. If using boneless skinless chicken thighs, double the
2 to 2
1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders
large cloves garlic, peeled
tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground pepper
fine, dry breadcrumbs from whole grain bread, see note
finely grated (not shredded) Parmesan or Romano cheese (or a
tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives, green onion tops or
parsley leaves (or a combination)
mixed baby kale and romaine lettuces
yogurt Caesar salad dressing
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Put into a large bowl. Crush the
garlic into the bowl. Add the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt
and pepper; mix gently to coat chicken.
Heat oven to 375 degrees on convection or 400 degrees on
conventional. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
breadcrumbs, cheese, chives and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and
pepper in a shallow baking dish. Beat eggs with a fork in
another shallow dish.
Remove a chicken tender from bowl. Dunk the piece into eggs,
let excess drip off, then roll in crumbs to coat. Place on
prepared baking sheet. Repeat for all chicken leaving a
little room around each on the baking sheet. (Use two oiled
baking sheets if necessary.)
Sprinkle any remaining crumb mixture over the chicken
pieces. Bake until tops are golden and chicken is slightly
firm when pressed with a finger, about 20 minutes. Serve hot
over the mixed lettuces. Drizzle with dressing and more
For the breadcrumbs, Let 6 thick slices whole grain bread
dry out on counter for a couple of hours (or put into a
300-degree oven to dry for about 15 minutes). Tear the dry
bread into chunks, and place in a food processor. Process
until fine crumbs. Store in a covered container for several
days, or freeze.
information per serving: 417 calories, 16 g fat, 5 g
saturated fat, 188 mg cholesterol, 23 g carbohydrates, 4 g
sugar, 44 g protein, 560 mg sodium, 4 g fiber