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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Chicken Nation

America's Favorite Roast Chicken

Judy Rogers's Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

"Everybody likes to joke about chicken—the rubber-chicken prize, or 'This alligator tastes like chicken.' It's calling something boring," says Judy Rodgers, chef-owner of San Francisco's beloved Zuni Café. But chicken done expertly, Rodgers says, "is like a perfect piece of toast with just the right amount of butter. It can be astonishing." She should know: Zuni's roast chicken is considered the best in the country—in a recent poll by foodandwine.com, Rodgers's recipe won by a landslide.

Rodgers joined Zuni in 1987 and, within months, proposed what the menu still calls "Chicken for two roasted in the brick oven; warm bread salad with scallions, garlic, dandelion greens, dried currants and pine nuts. (Approximately one hour.)" The dish depends famously on three key elements: small birds, high heat (450 to 500 degrees) and thorough presalting of the chicken several days before cooking. The essence of the Zuni chicken experience, in Rodgers's view, is that "it's like, 'Here. Is. Chicken.' " Pure and bold and underlined. "Then of course there's the family-style thing," she says of the way the dish is presented on a platter. "Eating with your hands, shopping around for the pieces you want. 'Oh, I want a gooey piece! Now I want a crispy piece! Get your hands off the pine nuts!' Plus, it smells good."

Related: Chicken Recipes and Cooking Tips
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Chicken Nation

Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart on Raising Chickens

Emeril Lagasse Interviews Martha Stewart on Raising Chickens

For F&W's September issue dedicated to all things chicken, TV star, philanthropist and New Orleans booster Emeril Lagasse interviews Martha Stewart about her famous birds.

Emeril Lagasse: My foundation helps support the Edible Schoolyard Project at an elementary school in New Orleans. What could my students there learn from raising chickens?
Martha Stewart: Every garden can benefit from a chicken coop and a flock of healthy birds. A little ecosystem can be developed that enables the chickens to eat all the vegetable scraps from the garden, and the owner to eat the eggs from the chickens. There's much to learn about backyard animal husbandry, and raising chickens is an excellent way to teach children the importance of good animal caregiving.

EL: If I were going to raise chickens, what breed would match my personality?
MS: I've always raised a variety of birds, finding that they are extremely interesting to look at and have different personalities. And the old saying that birds of a feather flock together is absolutely true. I think you should raise the big birds, like the Jersey Giants, the Buff Cochins, the Partridge Cochin and the Araucana.

EL: In New Orleans, we have some great chicken dishes. Do you have a favorite?
MS: One dish that I really enjoy is chicken-and-andouille gumbo, which happens to be the signature stew of New Orleans. It bears the imprint of nearly every ethnic group to have settled in the Crescent City. The gumbo includes the "holy trinity" of Cajun and Creole cooking: celery, onion and bell pepper. It must always be served over rice.

EL: What have you learned from raising chickens for so many years?
MS: That I can't possibly buy a store-bought egg. I can't bake or cook or eat anything but my own eggs. They are so good, so rich, so delicious and so nutritious when the chickens they come from are raised carefully and organically in your own backyard.

Related: Chicken Recipes and Cooking Tips
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Cooking with Eggs

Chicken Nation

Michael Symon's Top 5 Spice Rubs

Michael Symon's Spice Mixes

For F&W's September issue dedicated to all things chicken, superstar chef Michael Symon shared his favorite spice mixes.

To make each dry rub, toast 2 tablespoons of each ingredient in a small skillet over moderate heat until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and let cool, then coarsely crush.

No. #1
Coriander seeds, dried lemon peel and ground ginger.

No. #2
Cumin seeds, smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder.

No. #3
Dried oregano, dried orange peel and granulated garlic.

No. #4
Fennel seeds, dried orange peel and onion powder.

No. #5
Pink peppercorns, dried rosemary and granulated garlic.

TO USE: Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then rub and chill for 4 to 8 hours before roasting or grilling.

Related: Chicken Recipes and Cooking Tips
Perfect Roast Chicken Recipes
100 Best Recipes Ever: Chicken

Chicken Nation

Andrew Zimmern's Global Chicken Guide

Andrew Zimmern's Global Chicken Guide

The TV star and F&W contributing editor shares the best places around the world to try every single part of the chicken—from the head to the feet.

HEARTS
Bird Land, Tokyo
Chef Toshihiro Wada's Bird Land tops my list for yakitori in Tokyo. Every part of the bird is served here, including the heart, a lean, tender organ that only takes a minute to cook over the superhot binchotan charcoal. Most people think of offal as too funky, but the heart is a great introduction to the odd bits: It's slightly chewy and takes on a nice char. ginza-birdland.sakura.ne.jp.

HEADS + NECKS
Va Villa, Mexico City
At this stall in the Barrio Tepito district, heads and necks are fried in lard and then swaddled in salsa verde, queso blanco, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Laid on top of crispy fried tortillas, they almost look like little chicks sleeping. Fray Bartolome de las Casas (West Of Aztecas), Barrio Tepito.

BUTTS (POPE'S NOSES)
Shilin Night Market; Taipei, Taiwan
Walking through this market, you will bump into vendors grilling skewers of unusual chicken parts: unlaid eggs, feet and chicken butts, the flappy bit at the end of the animal where a huge nugget of fat holds the massive plume of feathers. Try any vendor; grilled hard, these chewy nuggets become a crispy, delicious bite and are my single favorite part of the chicken. Jihe Rd, Shilin District.

LIVER
Chez Georges, Paris

My grandmother's chopped chicken liver has no equal, but Chez Georges's chicken liver terrine is close. Smooth, rich, fatty, minerally and dense, it has all the qualities I love in liver. Get extra bread. 1 Rue du Mail; 33-1-42-60-07-11.

WINGS
New Lane; Penang, Malaysia

New Lane is the greatest street-food stroll in the world, partly because it's the only place to get these chicken wings—glazed with a sticky sauce of sugar, soy, rice wine, cinnamon and star anise. Look for a stall with the longest line of locals. Lorong Baru, Georgetown.

KEEL BONES
Kokekokko, Los Angeles
The chefs at Little Tokyo's Kokekokko have yakitori down to a science. They also nail the art. Try skewers of non-traditional parts, like keel bones, the rubbery wedge between the chicken breasts. It has great smoky flavor and the perfect crunchy, yielding feel. 203 S. Central Ave.; 213-687-0690.

THIGHS
Bukhara, New Delhi
One of the best restaurants in India, Bukhara serves richly seasoned, tandoor-cooked red-gold chicken thighs that are buttery, spicy and crisp in all the right places. Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Margs; 91-11-26112233.

BREASTS
Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans
Located in the Treme neighborhood, the restaurant is run by Willie Mae's granddaughter, who serves some of the best fried chicken. It's the only place where I ever order breasts, because frankly, it's one of the few spots that knows how to cook them. 2401 Saint Ann St.; 504-822-9503.

SKIN
Husk; Charleston, SC
Southern chefs aren't afraid of fat, so it makes sense that chicken skin shows up in a few different incarnations at Sean Brock's Husk (as a salad garnish or with pimento cheese). The absolute best use of the skin, however, is as an appetizer, where it's buttermilk-marinated and deep-fried. huskrestaurant.com

LEGS
Scotchies Restaurant; St. Ann, Jamaica
The chicken is bathed in a flaming-hot seasoning of Scotch bonnet peppers and spices. After a day in the rub, the birds are smoke-roasted on stacks of pimento wood. I ask for piles of legs and a coconut water. N. Coast Hwy., Drax Hall.

FEET
M. Wells Dinette; Long Island City, NY
Inside the Museum of Modern Art's PS 1 outpost, this spot is renowned for Hugue Dufour's fat-on-fat Quebecois food. I always order the crispy and chewy buffalo-style chicken feet—drenched in hot sauce and, of course, maple syrup. momaps1.org

Related: Andrew Zimmern's Kitchen Adventures
Global Grilled Chicken Recipes
Best Restaurant Chicken Dishes

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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