Last week I went to another cooking demonstration at Red Stick Spice Company. The theme this time was food blogs and the menu included foods that have been circulating the blogosphere for a while. The reason they’re so popular is because they are delicious!
Most chefs/cooks have one item that eludes them. Some don’t bake very well. Some have trouble with sauces. My culinary challenge is roasted chicken. It never turns out well and, to be honest, I had given up. It’s just too easy to pop into the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken.
So when I saw that Zuni Cafe roasted chicken was on the menu for the cooking demo, I knew I had to attend. Boy, am I glad I did! This chicken is so good. It was not only a beautiful golden brown on the outside, but succulent and juicy on the inside.
The secret to Zuni Cafe’s chicken is the dry brine. Dry is the new wet. Brines have gotten pretty popular over the last few years and they’re great for keeping the meat moist and flavorful. The problem with wet brines is that they involve a lot of equipment. The great thing about a dry brine is that all you need is a baking sheet or plate.
So what’s involved in a dry brine, you ask? Salt and herbs. Lots of salt. Seriously. But you’re just going to have to trust me (well, really you’re going to have to trust Judy Rodgers, the chef at Zuni). Also like any other brine, it takes time. One to three days to be exact. This isn’t a meal you’re going to make when you get home from work on a Tuesday (unless you brined your chicken on Sunday). This meal takes a little advance planning, but it is worth every step.
Sorry for all the raw chicken photos, but I wanted you to see what a before and after brined chicken looked like. The brined chicken is a tad smaller and a little dried out looking. It might even have some blistering. Think of it as Cinderella before the Fairy Godmother arrives. She might not look that great now, but in the end, she will be the belle of the ball.
This bread salad is slightly different than most bread salads. It’s almost like a stuffing that’s mixed with salad greens at the end. It is sublime and utterly delicious and worth every second of work. I promise.
The recipe calls for slightly stale peasant-style bread. I have a recipe for ciabatta that is perfect (that recipe is not up on the blog yet, sorry). I made the ciabatta 2 days prior to making the bread salad. Like I said before, this meal takes some planning.