My Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken

Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken (insta 2)

Hey all !

I love a roast chicken recipe that includes bread. You can roast a chicken over thickly sliced bread or like in this recipe, adding bread cut into crouton sized pieces to the roasting pan, absorbs all of the cooking juices and packs a real flavour punch! The edges get all toasted and crispy and are full of the lemon, herbs, salt and juices from the chicken. They become little flavour bombs!

The chicken turns out tender and flavourful with a deliciously crispy skin. If this doesn’t become your favourite roast chicken recipe, I would be very surprised.

Zuni Café

I discovered this recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s All Easy. Don’t be skeptical because it is a celebrity cookbook. Gwyneth is a foodie just like us and her recipes, especially in this book, are great.

Zuni Café in San Fran, is world-famous for this chicken recipe. The restaurant salts the chicken for days (ensuring an extra crispy skin) and cooks it in a wood burning oven (OMG!) This recipe, she states, is the weeknight version!

The super secret ingredient

This recipe contains a secret ingredient and it is one that many people say they hate but they actually don’t. Anchovies are added to so many of your favourite dishes, in steak marinades, sauces and vinaigrettes (not just Caesar Salads) because they add umami. In other words, they enhance the flavour profile of foods, like super powers.

Umami: this generation’s food buzzword. It is described as a pleasant savoury flavour that takes your food from being very good to off the hook!

In Japanese it literally means deliciousness! So anchovies = deliciousness. 

Yes, anchovies are a tried and true flavour enhancer and don’t taste fishy at all unless you are putting whole anchovy fillets on your pizza or …uhhhremember when it was “a thing” to put them on celery sticks as an appetizer? Is that still done? Haven’t seen one of those since 1982. Anyway, in recipes like this one, you are only adding a couple of finely minced fillets to a vinaigrette.  So zero fishiness, I promise. If you think you are an anchovy hater, try it in this recipe and I just know you will love the outcome. I challenge you! Don’t omit it! When I read this paragraph to my husband, a “so-called” anchovy hater, he asked a question that both proved my point and also filled me with glee…

“There were anchovies in our chicken last night?”

“YES! There were”, I happily exclaimed.

“It was amazing”, he replied.

..and thats all you need to know.

It is my secret mission to convert him into liking things he didn’t like before. Tee-hee.  He didn’t like lasagna (gasp!) but he does now. I almost fainted when he told me that soon after we met. He didn’t like olives, but now he does 🙂 As a food lover it bothers me to say that I don’t like something. I hated but HATED string beans for most of my life but I’d eat them every once and a while until I warmed to them. I learned how I like them cooked and now, I love them and make them almost once a week.


1 Whole (3 1/2 lb chicken), cut into 8 pieces. (The butcher at the grocery store did it for me)

For this recipe, don’t be tempted to buy a huge roaster chicken. It won’t turn out right. Keep it on the smaller rather than bigger side.

6 large garlic cloves, smashed with a knife. Skins left on if desired.

2 tsp of very finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsp of very finely chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 tsp of salt

1 lemon zested with a microplane and then cut in half.

5 tbsp of olive oil

1/2 of a green olive baguette or a plain baguette, torn or cut into cubes of roughly 1 to 2 inches

Using a green olive baguette really complimented this dish. I decided to use that type because that’s all I had in the freezer. I was wary of using it but laziness won and it turned out to be an amazing decision.  The flavour and salinity of the olives, the lemon and the anchovy seem to be made for each other. I will probably always make it this way from now on.

2 anchovies, finely chopped or smashed with a fork. (or 3 fillets , if using those small ones packed in olive oil)

2 tbsp of red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

4 large handfuls of arugula

Lemon wedges for serving


Preheat the oven to 425F.

Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up on a large rimmed baking sheet, baking dish or roasting pan and scatter the garlic cloves around them.

In a small bowl, combine the minced rosemary, thyme, salt, lemon zest and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Mix together and rub all over the chicken being sure to get some under the skin.

To ensure that the herb mixture is evenly distributed, I first dollop some on each piece with a spoon then rub it in, carefully lifting the skin, applying the mixture underneath. Keep the skin in tact as much as possible; it’ll be the best part!

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the chicken undisturbed for 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine anchovies, vinegar and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl and set aside.

After the 40-45 mins has elapsed, remove the chicken from the oven and arrange the torn bread and the zested lemon halves in between the chicken pieces, tossing them in any juices that the chicken has released.

Drizzle everything with another glug (2 tbsp) of olive oil and return the pan to the oven to roast for approximately 10 more minutes.

Check the internal temperature and cook to your preferred doneness. I like it when the chicken skin is well golden and crispy. It’ll taste like bacon!

Remove chicken from the oven and immediately add the anchovy mixture. This will help deglaze the pan, gathering up all of the delicious crispy bits.

Use tongs to pluck out the croutons and add them to the serving dish with the arugula. Toss with remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.

Top with the chicken pieces and lightly tent the serving dish with aluminum foil. This will wilt the arugula and it’ll allow the chicken to rest for a bit.

Meanwhile, take the garlic cloves and squeeze them out of their skins, into the baking pan and squeeze-in the juice from the roasted lemon halves.

Use a wooden spoon or spatula to crush the softened garlic and scrape up as much of the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan as possible.

Pour about half of the garlic pan sauce over the chicken, and bread and salad and serve with more of the sauce on the side. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

This dish just says Spring to me! I can see it served outdoors on a warm sunny day.


Green olive baguetteZuni chicken green olive baguette cubesZuni Chicken rawZuni Chicken cooked baking dishZuni Chicken serving plate




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