I posted two short sentences on Twitter the other day, and got the following responses: “You suck.” “I hate you.” “JUST STOP IT.”
What could I have tweeted that would elicit such vitriol? Here’s what I said:
“Zankou Chicken, extra garlic sauce, pickled turnips. Don’t be jealous.”
Because if you are a Zankou Chicken lover, you know this: One of the most painful things to hear is that someone else is sinking their teeth into that crispy chicken slathered in garlic sauce, and you’re not.
What is it that makes Zankou’s rotisserie chicken so special, that has charmed the finicky palates over at the Zagat Guide to name its chicken dinner “the single best takeout dish in town?” That made one of my Northern California friends say that Zankou Chicken was the only reason he’d move to Los Angeles?
First you have the chicken – the crispy skin surrounding the perfectly cooked chicken inside – so deliciously moist, never dry, and never undercooked. Then you have the side dishes – the aforementioned pickled turnips (bright pink, and looking like they should be bad but they’re so, so good), the fresh, slightly tangy hummus served with lots of soft pita. And then – the garlic sauce. What is this irresistible, addictive, unbelievably tasty paste that makes every bite of chicken seem like the best chicken you’ve ever eaten in your life? That will have you licking the inside of the little plastic cup so that you can get every last morsel of it into your belly?
I’ve heard for awhile that the secret to the sauce is potatoes, and after a little internet searching I’m finding that, along with copious amounts of garlic, the potatoes are the key ingredient to the palate-pleasing, pasty consistency. Here’s a recipe for a knockoff of their famous sauce, for all of you that don’t have the benefit of a Zankou around the corner. Buy a rotisserie chicken, a tub of hummus and a package of pita, and serve up with this homemade magic elixir. That should stop the hostile tweets for awhile.
Zankou Chicken Garlic Sauce (copycat recipe)
3 small russet potatoes
1 head garlic (12-14 cloves)
1/3 cup, fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon, salt
1/2 cup, canola oil
Peel the potatoes and boil in water until potatoes are very soft. Mash the potatoes and allow them to cool.
Crush and peel a whole head of garlic. Cut the garlic cloves into thirds or quarters. Place the raw garlic in a blender with the salt and lemon juice. Pour a light layer of oil onto the garlic. Puree the garlic mixture on “high” ” and, with the blender running, begin pouring a slow, steady stream of the remaining oil through the blender’s top opening until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
NOTE: At this point, you’ll have an extremely garlic-y sauce which can be used as is. But to mellow the flavors and create the trademark pasty texture of Zankou’s sauce, you’ll need to add the potatoes.
Add the mashed potatoes, about 2-3 tablespoons at a time to incorporate evenly. Continue adding potatoes to the blender until the sauce is mixed well.
Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to chill completely in the refrigerator. After about an hour, the flavors will blend together nicely and the texture will take on that thick, pasty consistency like Zankou’s sauce.
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When she’s not tweeting about what she’s eating, Marsha can be found at Sweatpantsmom.com