A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a meal at Zuni café to sample their roast
chicken and bread salad. The famous salad delivers tender juicy pieces of chicken sitting on a bed of
roasted chunks of bread, soaked in chicken juices and a delicious dressing punctuated with currants
and pine and bitter and peppery salad leaves.
To make things quicker, I’m forgoing the chicken salting process that begins up to 3 days ahead in
the original recipe (instructions easily available online!). The bread salad however, although simple,
is something quite special; this is my version of a true classic!
8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, around 1kg, trimmed of excess skin
2 white onions, each cut into 8 wedges
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 -3 sprigs of thyme
1 medium ripe tomato, halved
4 tbsp good white wine vinegar
4 tbsp currants
250g country style white bread, crusts removed and torn into bite size chunks
2 tbsp pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
160g bitter or peppery leaves (rocket, watercress, escarole, curly endive etc)
Salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 180°C fan
Add the chicken thighs, onion wedges, garlic cloves and thyme to your wide, shallow casserole pan. Drizzle over about 1.5 tbsp of olive oil and rub it all over the ingredients. Sprinkle everything liberally
with salt and a good grind of black pepper. Pop in the oven for 50-55 minutes until the skin is golden
and crisp and the onions turning dark at the edges. Give things a shake halfway through and move
any onions that might look to be browning too quickly.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Push the cut side of the tomato against the coarse side of a box
grater and grate the tomato until all the pulp is removed, leaving you with just the skin in your hand
which can be discarded. Add the vinegar and the currants and leave whilst the chicken cooks.
Once the chicken is cooked, transfer the thighs to a large plate, allowing it to rest and cool whilst you
finish the dish. Toss the torn pieces of bread into the roasting tray containing the onions, garlic,
thyme and chicken cooking juices. Give everything a good mix up and place back in the oven for 10-
15 minutes or until the bread is starting to brown at the edges and toast. Give it a gentle toss half
way through. Now sprinkle over the pine nuts and pop back in the oven for a final 5 minutes to toast
the pine nuts. If any pieces of bread look like they’re turning brown too quickly, turn them over. The
aim here is to get some pieces of bread nice and crunchy, whilst others stay slightly soggy in that
lovely comforting way! Meanwhile, add 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the tomato mixture
and season well with salt and black pepper.
Once the bread is toasted, remove from the oven. Add the green leaves to a large serving dish with
the toasted bread, roasted garlic and onions from the pan. Drizzle over the dressing and, using your
hands, toss well. Nestle the chicken in amongst the salad and serve.