JW BIRD

ZOOMER Magazine - - ENTERTAINING -

Serves 2 to 4 I love Jonathan Wax­man so much. Jonathan is a pi­o­neer of Cal­i­for­nia cui­sine, but I first met him when I worked at the Wash­ing­ton Park Restau­rant in New York. He has re­mained one of my great­est men­tors as a chef and a good friend to this day. Work­ing with JW re­ally took me to the next level as a chef. The sim­plic­ity of his food at Wash­ing­ton Park, paired with im­pos­si­bly lux­u­ri­ous wines, was an ed­u­ca­tion. This is based on his recipe, ex­cept I brine the birds in pickle juice rather than a clas­sic brine. Nev­er­the­less, the tech­nique is all his: slow-grilled and skin side down about 90 per­cent of the way so it’s crispy and holy good, then cov­ered in salsa verde, just as JW taught me. Be­yond the bird, I have stolen many a recipe and tech­nique from this great man.

2 Cornish hens or small chick­ens Pickle juice to cover your birds

Salsa Verde

¼ cup small-diced shal­lots ¼ cup small-diced sour pickles ¼ cup chopped ca­pers 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped 1 bunch fresh tar­ragon, chopped ½ bunch fresh pars­ley, chopped ½ bunch fresh dill, chopped Zest of ½ lemon 3 cups olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pep­per

Spatch­cock your birds: lay the birds breast side down and use kitchen shears to cut down each side of the spine. Re­move the spine and the wing tips (you can save these for stock), then turn the birds over, press down on the breast­bone, and flat­ten them.

Place the birds in a large con­tainer with a tight-fit­ting lid, cover with the pickle juice and re­frig­er­ate. Soak the birds in the juice for 24 to 48 hours, depend­ing on your taste, then re­move and dry the birds off with a clean dish towel.

Pre­heat your bar­be­cue on medium heat, then put your flat­tened birds skin-side down on the grill. Turn the heat down to low and close the lid. Cook for about 20 min­utes without open­ing the lid of the bar­be­cue. This will make the skin beau­ti­ful and crispy. Flip the birds and cook for 2 to 3 min­utes, just to let the heat kiss the flesh and bones. Re­move the birds from the heat and let them rest for 5 to 10 min­utes.

Com­bine all the salsa verde in­gre­di­ents in a bowl. Taste and ad­just sea­son­ing as needed.

Once your birds have rested, cut them into eighths. Use a knife that you don’t mind cut­ting through bones with. Sep­a­rate the drum­sticks from the thighs and cut the breasts in half.

Ar­range your birds on a plat­ter and gen­er­ously smother them with the salsa verde.

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