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[personal profile] lillibet
When I lived in California I fell in love with the roast chicken and bread salad at Zuni. I found the recipe and have tried to replicate it a few times over the years, but I don't love dealing with whole chickens and somehow it's just never quite right. Recently I was intrigued by Bon Appetit's recipe for Fennel-Rubbed Chicketta and when I asked Jason and Alice for input on what to serve it with, we agreed that bread salad sounded good. So I ended up making a Frankenstein's dinner by combining the two ideas, along with what I've learned from making my variation on Jamie Oliver's Proper Chicken Caesar Salad, one of Jason's favorite things in the world. This is what we ended up with:

2 tsp of fennel seeds*
4 full chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)**
8 oz. bacon, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup olive oil***
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest****
1 tsp. finely chopped thyme*****
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes******
1/2 loaf of day-old *******ciabatta
5 oz. of mixed greens
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
salt & pepper

- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Cut the bread into 1" cubes and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and place in oven for 10 minutes or until firm and golden brown.********
- While the bread is toasting, toast the fennel seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer from pan and let cool. Grind in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle. Don't forget the toast in the oven.
- Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp, 8-10 minutes.
- Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with half of fennel******** and season generously with salt & pepper*********.
- When bacon is crisp, transfer with a slotted spoon to a medium bowl. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. bacon fat.
- Increase heat to medium-high and place the chicken, skin side down, in skillet, pressing down so skin makes good contact with surface of pan. Cook until skin is golden brown and starting to crisp, about 5 minutes.**********
- While the chicken is browning, prepare garlic, parsley, lemon zest, and thyme.
- When the chicken is browned, place it on top of the toasted bread and pop the tray back in the oven for 35-40 minutes. The target temperature is 165F, if you're into that. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- While the chicken is roasting, fry the pine nuts in the remaining bacon fat until they are a rich brown. Seriously. Do it.
- While the chicken is resting, add garlic, parsley, oil, lemon zest, thyme, red pepper flakes, and remaining fennel to the bowl of bacon. Mix well and season with salt & pepper.
- Transfer the toasted bread to a large serving bowl. Add the mixed greens and the bacon mixture and toss together. Add more olive oil if it seems dry.
- When the chicken is ready, serve on top of piles of the bread salad and garnish with the fried pine nuts.

The whole thing took about 90 minutes, though I think I can cut that down with practice. It was really delicious--definitely will do it again, paying attention to the footnotes.

*I happened to have whole fennel seeds on hand, so I did the whole toasting and grinding bit, which always makes me feel like Baba Yaga. Next time I think I'll see if it's notably different with pre-ground, non-toasted fennel seed, which I also have thanks to a conveniently located Penzey's shop, and would save both time and effort.

**I think I'll try this with just thighs next time--less hassle on the plate.

***I was dubious that it would need this much, so I eyeballed it and I think it was at least this much. Will measure next time and find out.

****I would use more lemon zest next time.

*****Our market has been out of most fresh herbs lately, so I used dried, but would like to try fresh and see if that makes any difference. Either that, or just more.

******I forgot the red pepper flakes, but I think they would be nice.

*******Or older. I had about 1/3 loaf in the fridge from last week, so I started with that, then added another 1/3 loaf of fresh bread to fill up the pan.

********Next time I'm going to try rubbing them with a little olive oil. They got surprisingly little moisture from the chicken--that may change if I go to only-thighs.

********I goofed here and used all the fennel--and I'd been generous to start with, so it was probably more like a tablespoon of fennel and that wasn't too much, so the overall message is: go heavy on the fennel seed.

********I went ahead and rubbed under the skin and on the bottom, as well as on top of the skin. I think that gives the chicken more flavor.

**********I had to do the chicken in two batches and because I was putting it over bread, instead of roasting it in the skillet, I went ahead and browned both sides. That adds a not-insignificant amount of time to the process, which might be gained back by switching to more wieldy chicken pieces.

Date: 2016-11-04 01:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That does sound good, so thanks for the recipe! I'll send it on to Per, so we might stand a chance of making it before the end of the year! :-D

Date: 2016-11-04 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Let me know how it turns out!


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