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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: May 31, 2013

Le Bernardin is the flagship restaurant of the four star chef Eric Ripert. It is considered by many to be the best seafood restaurant in New York City, although Mr. Ripert personally enjoys other dishes as well. It’s hard to imagine knowing how fresh and delicious his seafood is. Yet, a recent cookbook called Avec Eric, (also the name of his popular TV food show), clearly reveals how much he loves cooking and eating whole roasted chicken as well as seafood. For some reason, cooking whole chicken can be a daunting task for many, due to being overcooked, under appreciated, or not well done enough. This recipe works on all cylinders — moist, crispy and extraordinary. It’s better than ever because of the Za’Atar dressing that brings a special flavoring to the table. And Chef Ripert employs a unique cooking approach that roasts the bird at 450 F for 20 minutes followed by a cooler temperature for another 25–30 minutes. Voila.

Roasted Chicken with Za’Atar Dressing

Serves 6

This is a Lebanese spice mixture that is extraordinary

• 1 4-pound chicken

• 1 ½ Cups dried crusty bread

• 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

• 2 Teaspoons minced garlic plus 1 head of garlic cloves

• 2 Tablespoons za’atar

• 1 Teaspoon lemon zest

• ¼ Cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove the wings and reserve. Combine the bread, parsley, minced garlic, Za’Atar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and toss with ¼ cup of the olive oil to coat evenly. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper.  

Za’Atar is found in Middle Eastern markets or is made with 1/4 cup sumac or lemon zest if not available; 1-2 tablespoons of thyme; 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds; 2 tablespoons marjoram; 2 tablespoons oregano; 1 teaspoon coarse salt — all ground together. Keeps 2-3 months in refrigerator. It’s also good on fish or meat.

Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper and fill with the stuffing. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Season the bird on the outside with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the wings in a roasting pan and place the chicken on top of the wings. Roast for 20 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and add the garlic cloves to the roasting pan. Continue roasting for 25-30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the leg is pierced. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

Carve the chicken by removing the leg and thigh at the joint, then run the carving knife down one side of the breastbone and continue by following the rib cage, lifting the breast meat away from the bone. Repeat on the other side of the breastbone, removing the second breast. Slice the breast meat and the leg meat crossways. Place 2 slices each of breast and leg meat on each plate and spoon some of the stuffing alongside. Spoon some of the pan over the chicken and serve immediately.

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