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If you make just one recipe from Make It Ahead by Ina Garten, this is the one to do. It is a magnificent combination of green and protein. Here chicken flavor is elevated to a level you might not have imagined possible. It’s a great dish and one that is a full meal unto itself. This is what one-pot food was meant to me.

As one of Ina’s Make It Ahead dishes, some planning is suggested. You want the chicken to marinate for 24 to 48 hours. Truthfully, our chicken sat for just a few hours and it was a delight.

You might have seen a recipe in Around My French Table from Dorie Greenspan where a chicken is roasted atop a bed of one or two bread slices. Dorie says that bread, which first absorbs liquid and then crisps, is excellent to eat. It is. Suzen and I have done it and yes we fight over who gets the slice of bread.

Here, Ina credits the bread foundation technique to Judy Rogers of the Zuni Café in San Francisco. And here several slices of bread are used; once crisped, they are incorporated as divine croutons in the arugula salad that is generously studded with pieces of the roast chicken. Plenty of bread to go around. No fighting.

Ina wants real chicken chunks for the salad, so she has some carving guidelines. Once the bird has cooled, cut off the legs and cut between the thigh and the leg. For the breasts, cut the wings off, remove each breast in one large piece, and make thick slices crosswise. You can get a sense of the desired sizes from the picture.

Oh, Ina did not include avocado in her salad, but it does make the dish a little more creamy and complex. Either way, you be immensely satisfied with this unrivaled dish.

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Roast Chicken with Bread & Arugula Salad

Yield: one 10-inch cake, enough for 6-8 persons, including seconds.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 1 (4 to 4 ½-pound) whole chicken
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed flat
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus extra for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 (¾-inch-thick) slices country bread
  • Good olive oil

For the arugula salad:

  • ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup good olive oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts (3 scallions)
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)
  • Avocado slices [optional]

Preparation:

For the chicken:

Place the chicken in a baking dish. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs without breaking the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon in the cavity. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sea salt and the pepper, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is very clean!) Place the bread in a medium (10-inch) cast-iron skillet in a single layer. Brush the chicken with olive oil and place it, breast side up, on top of the bread. Roast for 30 minutes, turn it over and roast for 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. (Don’t worry; it will stay hot.) The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top.

Place the Arugula Salad in a very large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and the bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into l-inch squares and sprinkle them on the salad. Carve the chicken thickly (see note) and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt, and serve warm.

For the salad:

Place the Arugula Salad in a very large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and the bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into l-inch squares and sprinkle them on the salad. Carve the chicken thickly (see note) and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt, and serve warm.

Source: Make It Ahead [Clarkson Potter, 2014]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.0 for 1/30th second at ISO‑400