A Tribute to Judy Rodgers

By Jane Poretsky

Judy Rodgers
Judy Rodgers

They say the good die young, and while this may be somewhat of a cliche, it holds true for culinary legend Judy Rodgers, of the influential Zuni Cafe. Judy passed away at 57 years young, after a challenging battle with cancer.

We felt the best way to share our love of her radiant smile and delicious cuisine was to share the recipe for her roasted chicken and Tuscan bread salad. Arguably, the most famous {and delicious} rustic Tuscan dish that we have ever tasted, rush to your oven now. Don’t skimp on any ingredients, and you will never look at poultry in the same light.

Roast Chicken & Bread Salad
Zuni Cafe Cookbook via Food & Wine
One 2 3/4-pound free-range chicken
4 thyme sprigs
4 small garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

  • Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and thighs. Stuff the thyme and garlic under the skin and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken and season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. Put the chicken in the skillet, breast side up, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side down and roast for about 15 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced. Transfer the chicken to a board and let rest for 10 minutes; carve.
  • Skim the fat from the juices in the skillet. Arrange the Bread Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts on a platter and top with the chicken. Pour the juices over all and serve.

    cafe zuni chicken
    Roast Chicken & Bread Salad
    (Photo Courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet)

For the bread salad:
1 tablespoon dried currants
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound stale Italian-style bread, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon pine nuts
4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cups lightly packed small arugula leaves

  • Preheat the oven to 450°. In a small bowl, soak the currants in the water and red wine vinegar until plumped, 10 minutes. Drain.
  • In another small bowl, combine the Champagne vinegar with the 1/2 cup of olive oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Let cool, then tear the bread into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, toss the bread with three-quarters of the dressing and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a pie plate, warm the pine nuts in the oven for 2 minutes.
  • In a skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the scallions and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add the currants, bread, pine nuts and the remaining Champagne vinaigrette and toss.
  • Spoon the bread salad into a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 15 minutes, until heated through. Uncover and bake for a few minutes longer to dry out the top and brown the bottom. Transfer the bread salad to a platter, toss with the arugula and serve.

Jane Poretsky is a quirky gal who spends her days shuffling between working and fattening up family members. Creating recipes that are simple to follow and always from scratch, Jane loves to bring her humorous side into the kitchen. Check out her personal blog: Caramelized Sarcasm

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

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