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Jonathan Waxman’s Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde

Jonathan Waxman’s Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde
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         When you can vividly remember a lunch you had ten years ago, I would have to say that’s the power of great cooking.  I distinctly remember a visit to Washington Park on lower Fifth Avenue.  The restaurant marked the triumphant return to New York of Chef Jonathan Waxman.  Chef Waxman was a California cuisine pioneer. Name a famed West Coast restaurant and Waxman may very well have worked there.  For starters, add Michael’s in Santa Monica to a list that included a stint at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse.  In the mid-80s, he took Manhattan by storm after opening an Upper East Side place called, appropriately, Jam’s, which was pretty much how you felt jammed into the bar waiting for your table.  Such was the incredible popularity of the place.  And what was it that I remember from that lunch in 2002?  Why Chef Waxman’s chicken, of course.
Barbuto, in what was once an
Industrial Space in Greenwich Village

         It must be odd to be so completely associated with one dish when your repertoire contains so many others. Chef Waxman’s Fritto Misto was at the top of its class last time I tasted it.  But Chef Waxman brings his chicken to the table with an interesting pedigree:  His grandparents were Chicken farmers.  So he knows his way around the bird.  And, at his latest location, he’s serving his take on all things Italian. He even wrote his own Italian cookbook, pictured above.   At 775 Washington St. (between Jane and West 12th St (212-924-9700)) Barbuto is home to the latest incarnation of Chef Waxman’s Chicken, still roasted to absolute perfection, still accompanied by crisp French fries but now topped with a deliciously complex salsa that launches the chicken into another sphere altogether.  It’s amazingly easy to make at home.  The technique is one you can use again and again. It involves searing the skin side of the bird in a cast-iron skillet which goes into the oven to roast.  Turning to the salsa, which you can make while the chicken roasts, don’t be put off by the lengthy list of ingredients.  The must-haves are the capers, anchovies, garlic and parsley, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.  Everything else on the list just builds up more flavor.  You can use a mortar or pestle but Chef Waxman gives you a dispensation: you can be forgiven for using your food processor instead.  Chef Waxman’s recipe gives each diner a whole half chicken.  He says you can eat half at the restaurant and take the rest home.  Andrew and I found our 4 lb chicken served four portions, perfect in our case since he could opt for the white while I enjoyed the dark and we got two meals out of one bird.  Here’s the recipe:


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