having eaten at zuni café when we were in san francisco, i decided i needed to try the zuni method for roast chicken.
it requires some forward planning – ideally you want quite a small bird which you need to salt and leave at least overnight. i wasn’t that organised, having focussed more on using up the chicken that was sitting in my freezer, so my bird was a bit big and i didn’t have time for the 2-3 days of salting that was suggested for this size of chicken (overnight was what i managed).
the cooking method is different to what i would normally do – the chicken is cooked at a much higher temperature, for a shorter time, presumably to maximise the moistness of the meat. there are various turning-over and other stages – i used smitten kitchen’s notes to guide me through.
the result was a very delicious and tender bird which david and i really enjoyed – the chicken flavour was intense and the skin had a particularly good salty crispy flavour.
however, and it is a big however, i also ended up with a filthy oven (which i’d recently cleaned, weep) and a house that reeked of roast chicken for several days despite the fact that i’d cooked this on a warm day with doors and windows open. the problem is that the high temperatures means the chicken fat splatters its way all round the oven and creates a lot of smoke.
i can live with a roast-chicken-scented house (make sure you don’t have any laundry drying nearby otherwise it too will smell of chicken; that’s another lesson learnt) but having to clean the oven after making this is a step too far. and you do need to clean it. having wiped down to remove all the greasiness, but not done a full clean, i made roasted peaches - very sadly these had a smokyflavour, with a hint of chicken. truly dreadful and absolutely gutting as i’d looked forward to eating them so much.
as a result, i will be putting the zuni method back in the drawer for days when the oven is already trashed (belly pork and lamb shoulder are the usual culprits) and a little more grease 'n smoke won’t hurt!