Wine Trail - Cook's Edition

Leftover Roast Chicken & Bread Salad

T

 he working title for this page was "Chicken Salad." This, of course, conjures up images of little bits of chicken swimming in mayonnaise with a lot of celery. Just not right. This is our riff on the quite excellent Zuni Cafe (San Francisco) Roast Chicken and Bread Salad, so the name you now see. Our first recipe for this site was Roast Chicken which we cook every few weeks for Friday night dinner. We always buy a chicken large enough to have leftovers to make this salad which we typically eat the next Monday night. OK, maybe we're in a rut, but good is just good.

As you might guess, we think it is absolutely delicious. It is most definitely a 'dinner salad'.

This is an example of taking a recipe and making it your own. There's not much that's new under the sun and recipes are certainly no exception. (Sure once in a while you hear about cronuts and the like, never would have thought of that.) Then there are the times that a good recipe is very good, but is better (so far as your own tastes are concerned) with one's own tweaks. This isn't hard, it isn't complicated, it is about your own taste. Really you can take a recipe and make it your own!

As we mentioned, the basis of this recipe comes from the Zuni Cafe. It is part of their recipe for roast chicken. The whole thing is available is many places across the web, but we are happy to say that we own the cookbook and highly recommend it if for nothing more than that exact recipe. It's where we learned about 'dry brining'. (See our Roast Chicken instructions.)

For us, the changes come under the heading:

"More is More" & Don't Sweat the Details



The Bread


The original recipe called for a "generous 8 ounces slightly stale open-crumbed, chewy, peasant-style bread (not sourdough)". What we like is the "Seeduction Bread" they sell at Whole Foods. Over time, the price of a loaf kept going up. Then around here, at least, it disappeared. We heard tell a lot of people complained. Then it was back and the price was lower. Then Amazon bought Whole Foods and the price was lower still (though not exactly cheap). The seeds are nice but what we really like is the slightly sweet "molassesy" flavor that seems to go really well with the rest of our recipe. The loaf is about 24 ounces and we find that breaking into three parts gives us enough for three dinners (for 2). Oddly enough and not at all related, that's exactly how much the original recipe calls for. There are several copycat recipes for this bread out there on the web. If you can't do Seeduction bread, go with what the original recipe calls for.

Bread

Currants

The original recipe calls for 1 TB currants. When we first made the recipe we searched out currants.  They look like small raisins, cost more and usually come in a box. What is a raisin? A dried grape. In this case what we call currants are dried Black Corinth grapes, i.e, they're raisins! They are also known as Zante currants, Corinth raisins, or Corinthian raisins.

One day when we were at a friend's winery, the winemaker ran in with a handful of very small grapes. He said they might be the best Cabernet grapes he'd grown. The small berries would yield very little, but very intense juice and a great Cab. Similarly the smaller currants are sweeter.

But, one day when our box of currants was gone and we didn't want to go to the market, we used regular raisins from the huge stash we'd gotten at Costco. Worked just fine and we haven't looked back. And we use a whole lot more than the recipe called for, anyhow. We hope the Zuni people will forgive our excesses.

Pine Nuts

They can be expensive, but come under the category of very much worth it. We're partial to the Trader Joe's toasted version. Toasting gives them more flavor and can be tricky. If you decide to toast raw ones yourself (whether in the oven or in a dry skillet) don't walk away. They burn quickly. The original recipe calls for 2 TB. We like at least twice that.

Pine Nuts

Scallions

As far as we're concerned, scallions are green onions. We know people who would not make the recipe unless they could find "scallions". And that is a point we'd like to make. When you don't have the exact ingredient, please do experiment with something else. Might even be better  (possibly cheaper). We like to use a little more than the 4 scallions the original recipe calls for. (Of course, green onions can be large or small, making the amount variable at best.  We like to get big thick ones, so adjust accordingly; besides required quantities for these ingredients are very loose!)

Stock

The whole point of this recipe is to use the leftovers from the very big roast chicken we make on Fridays for our salad dinner on the next Monday. Which means there is a very good chance you already have what you need to make stock and, as it happens, our recipe for that is on the roast chicken page. But we also have been known to either use or supplement with the Trader Joe's "chicken flavored savory broth" (shown in the picture up above that has the big bottle of red wine vinegar). We are big fans of gravy with our roast chicken. We always save a little to add to the stock in this recipe. That way you also get a lot of the roast chicken herbs and spices (mostly rosemary) to kick up the flavor of the salad. The original recipe calls for stock or lightly salted water. We say, stick with the stock.

Greens

The original recipe says: arugula, frisée, or red mustard greens. For us, there is no choice. Only use mustard greens. Where we shop there is only one choice, a bunch of mustard greens and that's what we get. They are at our Whole Foods about half the time and at the local large market that caters to various ethnic populations about 99% of the time (and half the price). The original recipe also calls for "a few handfuls". What does that mean? Who knows, but we use the entire bunch for two of us. See the pictures for the general size of a bunch.

When we wrote the last paragraph we were going on past history. Last time we made the salad we started calling around and nobody had mustard greens!  Well, at one point one market said so and we went there. They were mistaken. We weren't happy. Finally we called the local Vons market (aka Safeway, aka Cerberus Capital Management which also owns Albertsons). They said they had 'curly mustard'. We didn't really understand, wondering if they were trying to differentiate from Asian mustard greens (which won't work in this salad). But off we went and what they meant is shown in the picture. Couldn't find them in the regular produce section and asked. Produce person pointed to a refrigerator case on the wall where we finally found bags of washed, pre-cut mustard greens, labeled curly mustard. Well, they weren't as good as a fresh bunch, but we had our roast chicken leftovers and we weren't going to not go for it, so in a pinch it worked. It actually ended up being slightly cheaper as a half bag was plenty. But do and try to get the fresh bunch.

Mustard Greens

Roast Chicken Leftovers

We usually buy a 5 1/2 lb chicken for our Friday night dinner. Since we also have mashed potatoes and sautéed snow or snap peas, there is going to be a lot of leftovers.  Usually about a pound once taken off the bone. More than enough for 2 people in this big salad recipe. We like the chicken to be at room temperature or just slightly above when we put it on the salad, but if it has just come out of the fridge, a nice trick it to put it on a plate and cover with lettuce (to provide some coverage and moisture), then microwave at a low power for a short period.




The Recipe

A few hours before dinner, or even in the morning, soak the raisins (or currants) in the wine vinegar.

Pull the leaves of the mustard greens off the stalks, discarding the stalks. Wash the leaves in a salad spinner and dry. (We usually store them wrapped in paper towels in the fridge earlier in the day.)

Lightly spray or brush the bread cubes with some olive oil, then lightly toast under the broiler. Be careful not to overdo it! Alternatively, forget the oil and bake the cubes in a 350 degree oven until lightly brown (that's what we do, there will be plenty more oil later so who needs it here?). We usually do this earlier in the day.

If using, add the optional nam pla, the optional leftover roast chicken gravy (or chicken stock), and the optional Dijon mustard to the raisin mixture. (See above.) Our leftover gravy is refrigerated so we might have to warm the mixture up just a bit to get it to incorporate. We do it in the microwave. But you don't want it to be hot when you put it into the salad.

In a  smallish frying pan, sauté the garlic and green onions in olive oil. How much? We use 2-5 TB depending on how many greens there are.  Use what you like, but don't go overboard, you don't want the greens swimming in oil. Allow to cool somewhat, you don't want it hot when you put it into the salad



Tear the mustard greens into smallish pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the green onion mixture and mix the salad with your hands. Add the raisin vinegar mixture and mix again.

Add the pine nuts and the bread cubes and mix again.

Grind black pepper over the salad and mix again.



Divide the salad mixture onto (in our case 2) plates. Top with the leftover chicken.

Drizzle the walnut oil over the salad.

If using, lightly sprinkle the salt over the salad.

Enjoy!

The Salad

Wine Pairing

Pinot Noir

Nalle Winery
This is easy. One of the very best things you can pair with roast chicken is a really good pinot noir. As you can see we had this with the 2013 Nalle Pinot and it was really good. Sure there are other things that can work, Champagne comes to mind.

Nalle Winery Squirrels

Cheers!

Here is a summary of the recipe in a .pdf you can print