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A Mole-Rubbed Roast Chicken Recipe From a Former Barbuto Chef

Austin chef Jo Chan serves her flavorful chicken with a salad of plums, pine nuts, and croutons

Many chefs have taken on roast chicken as a way to flex their creativity or showcase excellence in simplicity — and some of these chicken recipes have even taken on national acclaim. There’s Zuni Cafe’s famous version served with a bread salad; and the signature JW roast chicken in salsa verde at the now-shuttered Barbuto, named after its chef and creator Jonathan Waxman, was synonymous with the New York restaurant.

Jo Chan, the executive chef of Austin’s Eberly (who spent three years in the kitchen at Barbuto), makes hers by rubbing the pre-roasted bird in smoked mole paste and roasting it in a cast-iron pan for about 30 minutes. And it’s best served, she says, with a salad of red plums, pine nuts, and sourdough croutons. Chan demonstrated how it’s all done as part of our Eater at Home series on Instagram. Check out the recipe below for yourself.

Smoked Mole-Rubbed Chicken and Summer Salad

Serves 4


For the chicken:

1 whole 3 to 3.5-pound chicken
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1 lemon, sliced
¼ cup kosher salt
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons smoked mole paste

For the salad:

10 ounces mixed greens
2 small red plums, sliced into wedges
¼ cup pine nuts
1 cup sourdough croutons
¼ red onion, minced fine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chardonnay vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon

Step 1: Combine the salt and all spices together with water in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until salt is fully dissolved, then add sliced lemon. Place chicken in brine, making sure it is completely covered. (Depending on the size of your mixing bowl, you may need to add more water.) Allow to soak in brine for 1 hour.

Step 2: Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, remove the back of the chicken and press firmly on the breastbone to properly spatchcock it. Place on a sheet tray and allow the chicken to dry in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. (Your local butcher can also spatchcock the chicken for you in advance.)

Step 3: Once rested and the chicken’s skin is fairly dry to the touch, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rub the smoked mole paste evenly across the entire bird.

Step 4: Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Once hot, add your chicken with the bone side down, making sure it is properly spaced in the pan. Transfer to the oven. Roast the chicken, basting occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch and cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest while you compose the salad.

Step 5: To make the dressing, combine red onion, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and chardonnay vinegar in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture, whisking rapidly to form the dressing. Add mixed greens and toss to coat. Place mixed greens on large serving platter and scatter plums, pine nuts, and croutons over the top. Serve chicken over the salad and enjoy!

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