Monday, November 3, 2014

Roasted Chicken with Sautéed Zucchini and Wine Reduction

I spent the last weekend in October in the Bay Area for a photo shoot for my upcoming fitness book, Psoas Strength and Flexibility. I had all day Sunday to blow and enjoyed the morning with my friend Cristina who took me down to the wharf where we found lunch in the courtyard of The Cannery building, which originally housed a Del Monte peach canning plant. I enjoyed the delightful company, but, as is the case with restaurants with epic locations, the food was just okay.

Dinner, on the other hand, was superb. A block from my hotel in unassuming Old Town Oakland, I found Desco, which offers seasonal, ingredient-driven regional Italian cuisine in a warm and inviting, modern space. I sat at the copper-top bar and waited for my roasted spring chicken with wine reduction and sautéed zucchini. I took my food to go and enjoyed it in my hotel with Anthony Bourdain on television and a bottle of wine. Yum.

This past weekend, I recreated the dish at home. It was my first time roasting a chicken prepared spatchcock, but I will definitely do it again. It cooks more quickly and because more of the skin is exposed, browns beautifully. It would certainly decrease turkey cooking time on Thanksgiving as well.

I’m usually less than enthusiastic about serving zucchini as a side dish, but once I tried it sautéed, I fell in love. Cooking over high heat in a small amount of fat browns the exterior without breaking down the cell walls of the interior. So, you can enjoy a crisp, flavorful vegetable.

I paired the dish with a bottle of Bordeaux, at the recommendation of Julia Child in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I also made a quick wine reduction to pour over the finished dish.

Okay, enough talk… let’s get to the food.

Serves 2
3 to 4 pound organic chicken
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 firm zucchini, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry red wine

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the backbone from the chicken by placing it breast-side down on a cutting board. Cut down one side of the backbone and then the other. Remove it and save for making stock or another use. Flatten the bird with the heel of your hand. 

2. Whisk the herbs and oil in a ramekin. Season with salt and pepper. Dry the bird gently with paper towels and set it into a roasting pan. Schmear the herb mixture on it to coat. Update: I have cooked the chicken this way a couple times since the original post and it is advantageous to turn the bird so the breast side is up. It looks prettier too, since the incision will be on the underside.

3. Roast for 45 minutes or until juices run clear.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
5. Spoon some of the fat from the roasting pan to a large sauté pan set over high heat.
6. Cook the zucchini for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned and hot. Lower the heat and add the garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds. Remove the zucchini and garlic to a serving platter. Season with salt and pepper.  

7. Return the pan to the heat and add the red wine. Simmer until thick and syrupy. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Set the chicken atop the zucchini and pour the wine reduction over the vegetables. Enjoy with the remaining wine. 

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