Gwyneth Paltrow, love her or loathe her, the woman can cook. Admittedly, between Julia Child and Jacque Pepin is ‘It’s All Easy’ by Gwyneth. On the cover she’s smiling ear to ear with a basket in her hand, dressed in what is probably an $800 sweater, casually holding a wooden box brimming with tri-colored vegetables. It has all the making of a great cookbook. Parisian Chef-friend and editor (Thea Baumann), beautiful images of said recipes, somewhat easy to find ingredients – it’s all there.
We had an impromptu dinner tonight with neighbors coming over; one for the first time the other a regular (and a friend) so I made Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken. Although I don’t eat it often, I can cook the hell out of a bird. Tonight was no exception. The instructions on this were a breeze and I can attest that at least on this recipe – it was all easy.
This recipe comes inspired by Zuni Café in San Francisco, a favorite of GP’s. The ingredients are simple:
1 full chicken (broken down)
6 lg garlic cloves
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
As far as easy goes, you can’t get much easier than this. I even had anchovy paste at the ready but if you don’t, you don’t have to use it! Her instructions are clear and straight-forward without much fuss and the photos are gorgeous. So gorgeous in fact that a one might miss that the chicken in the photo of the ‘oven-roasted chicken’ has most definitely been pan seared. Not wanting to miss out on the crispy skin that makes this dish a 10/10, I went ahead and pan seared each piece before placing it in the oven. A step that wasn’t in the instructions, but I added because it’s still very easy and makes the chicken crispier. I mean, look at that sear.
To begin, combine the herbs, lemon zest and olive oil and rub all over the chicken, get all up in there. I went ahead and added a few pats of butter as well by making a slice in the chicken skin and inserting it with a bit of herbs for more flavor. I let it marinate for a bit while the oven preheated to 425. Placing the chicken on the baking sheet over parchment paper with a few lemon wedges, set it in the oven for 40 minutes. Your house is about to smell amazing- just close your eyes and pretend you’re in Gwenyth’s kitchen. Her mother, Blythe Danner, is pouring you a glass of Cab Franc and Coldplay is streaming in the background. There are cashmere blankets and marble counter tops and oh look, Jessica Seinfeld just talked in! Enjoy that, but just be sure to wake up from the daydream at the 40 minute mark to add the sliced baguette pieces (crouton-style) to the pan. I made sure to rub the bread in the juices made by the chicken. Drizzle another bit of olive oil over the chicken and baguette for an additional 10 minutes.
Here, she recommends a concoction of red wine vinegar, anchovy and water to deglaze the pan and not lose the ‘crispy bits’. I’ll admit I did this a bit half-heartedly. Guests were on their way down and the chicken made plenty of good sauce that I wasn’t too concerned.
Place your arugula or whatever salad in a bowl and toss in the bread pieces, making sure to get that great flavor on them. Of my own accord, I made a salad with grated parmesan cheese and a quick honey mustard dressing. Using Trader Joe’s Dijon Mustard (with mustard seeds) and honey with a dash of salt, it’s a wonderful dressing that pairs so well with this salad Ms.Paltrow should be writing about me.
The Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken looked divine. I tucked in some arugula around the edges and drizzled lemon juice over the chicken and a bit over the salad as well et voila! A seriously stunning dish that is seriously easy even if you’re a novice in the
So, what are my thoughts on Gwyneth’s third cookbook? Well, it’s my first time trying out her recipes and so far, I’m a fan. This book has been praised for the short descriptions and not too exotic pantry. She balances the simple out with Kimchi Fried-Rice and Bo Bun Salad (still easy but less well-known). In fact, should I have a cookbook ( one day ) it would probably be something like this: Easy to execute, full of tasty dishes that can still be healthy and a little fancy. I’m not into veganaise but I am a fan of delicious and quick weeknight dinners and GP gives us just that. This won’t be my last dish out of this book, it’s just too easy.
Ciao for now.