Seared Panzanella Chicken from 'Portland, Oregon Chef's Table'

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[Photograph: Bruce Wolf]

After Portlandia, chickens may forever be the brunt of Portland food jokes. Still, as Laurie Wolf writes in her introduction to Portland, Oregon Chef's Table, local poultry is an important part of Portland dining, and it appears in more than a few recipes in her book. Roost's Seared Panzanella Chicken stood out among the rest for its rustic restraint. The chicken is simply seared skin-side down and finished in the oven. The panzanella component is no more than caramelized garlic, oil-cured olives, toasted bread, parsley, and chicken jus. Each plate is finished with a whiff of arugula salad and a drizzle of extra jus. Nothing more, nothing less.

Why I picked this recipe: Seared chicken on bread salad is a perfect example of ingredient-driven Portland cooking at its finest

What worked: With a strong backbone of good chicken, bread, and olives, there's not much that can go wrong.

What didn't: The recipe is pretty vague about dressing the arugula as well as the roasting times for the chicken and bread. I followed my instincts (checking on the chicken after 10 minute, and dressing the salad with only a bit of the dressing) and the dish turned out great, but I would have liked a bit more direction.

Suggested tweaks: The recipe calls for boneless breasts and thighs, and the image with the recipe shows skin-on pieces. Since skin on, boneless chicken is pretty hard to find, I de-boned skin-on breasts and thighs myself. This is kind of a pain in the a**, so I'd probably just leave the bones in and roast the chicken a little longer next time.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Portland, Oregon Chef's Table to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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