hold your family hostage by cooking awesome dinner: a guide

It’s just me and the brother-dude in the house for more than a week, and I need a way to compel him to sit and hang for an hour at least.  My cunning plan: nice sit-down dinner with kickass food.  And stolen wine, very important.

My meal plan is as follows: Zuni chicken, skillet cornbread,  salad dressed with rice wine vinegar and oil, and deglazed roasting pan reduction.  Because there are only two of us, this means muchos leftovers, and the perfect excuse to make stock from the carcass, and then chicken soup from the stock.

Sounds like my kinda fun.

The recipe for Zuni chicken calls for a 3.5lb or less whole chicken, which you salt and season at least two days in advance.  The chicken is quickly roasted at high heat, directly on the pan, no rack.  This results in incredibly moist, flavorful meat and crispy seasoned skin that even the picky no-skin eaters can’t pass up.  It’s a little fiddly, and you do need to prepare ahead of time.  Some of the preparation feels a lot like molesting the chicken.

Be warned.  You will never roast a chicken any other way once you make this.  If you make this for an audience, your culinary status in the household will skyrocket.  There will be crunchy things in the pan so tempting you’ll learn how to deglaze just to get at those little concentrated flakes of flavor.

You can do it with turkey too.  I made a Judy bird last November, and now Ma says she’s never making Thanksgiving turkey again.  She’ll cuff me to the oven if I don’t.

It’s also really fun to pick the chicken up by the wingtips and make it dance around.  For some reason this horrifies my mother.  She’s not here right now so it wasn’t anywhere near as fun as it usually is, but no one in this household has caught salmonella yet.  Tonight I salted and seasoned the bird after shoving herb bundles up under the skin, then covered with a towel to dry out in the fridge.

Pictures of pretty birds to come on Wednesday.

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