Cheers to the Publican Paul Kahan

Cheers to The Publican, Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall by Paul Kahan, Cosmo Goss and Rachel Holtzman is a narrative-rich cookbook by Chicago's superstar chef whose destination restaurant, The Publican, is known for its incredibly delicious pork- and seafood-centric, beer-friendly cooking.

I admit it, I'm a fan of restaurant cookbooks - I love the challenge, the experience of the restaurant and the opportunity to try complex dishes. I also admit to loving restaurant cookbooks that are like this one - unpretentious but upscale with straight-forward recipes. For example, the first recipe is Barbecued carrots these are not your run of the mill carrots, these are carrots that have the Ottolenghi-esque touch - sprinkled with pecans and herbs and then covered with a blanket of creamy ranch dressing. All the recipes here are approachable - some, of course, require some planning and there may be multiple components but good things take time. 

The book is organized after an introduction and breakdown of the Publican pantry,  as follows: To the Mighty Vegetable; To Bivalves, Mollusks, and Those Who Shell Before Us; To Noble Creatures of the Sea and the Much Maligned; To the Swine, Bovine, and Particularly Fowl; To the Mad Butcher: Charcuterie and Sausages; To What's Left Behind: Offal, Scraps, and Leftover Bits; and to Yeast and Flour: Bread and Everything on it. There is not a dessert chapter, but you won't miss it. My favorite paragraph is "The Anti-Tweezer Manifesto" - a revolt against fussy, frilly and frivolous. "...if you take a look in our kitchen, you'll see we're using the tweezers God gave us - our hands."

The author also shares bios of those who are friends of the restaurant: the farmers and suppliers. These bios and stories are nestled throughout the amazing recipes. Speaking of the recipes, the Pork pies are on my list to make this weekend - pork filled pastry - I mean, really, it screams make me! The Barbecued carrots (Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button) and the Brussels sprouts, pear, fried shallot, and balsamic onion with burrata are tagged to be made as well. (There are lots of tags in the book. I hoard Post-it Notes.)  I've already made the Publican chicken - the recipe we are sharing today. This chicken will ruin you for other chicken. It is no surprise that the chef who helped to created it worked for The Zuni Cafe. 

Special thanks to Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Ten Speed Press, for providing the Publican chicken recipe for our members today and for providing three copies of this book for our contest below. 

Publican chicken
Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

This is the most famous Publican dish, if there is such a thing. It's what I'm eating when I'm in the restaurant, and it's what I'm making at home, whether people are coming over or it's just me and my wife. It has its roots in a Portuguese restaurant in Montreal (that Donnie and I read about in Gourmet), where this guy was grilling spiced and spatchcocked chicken over a charcoal grill- while smoking a cigarette- and then served it over a bed of French fries. We ate that chicken and looked at each other like Eureka! The Publican wasn't even a twinkle in my eye, but I knew we had to serve this in some restaurant, some day.

Our interpretation of the dish includes cooking the chicken over wood, which adds a lot of flavor, and seasoning it with Espelette pepper (of course) and Mexican oregano, which I love for its almost minty flavor. But the real secret, aside from a squeeze of lemon at the end, is pre- salting and then marinating the chicken. It's a technique I borrowed from Judy Rodgers, the late chef- founder of San Francisco's Zuni Café, via Brian Huston- who worked for her before he came to The Publican. We salt the bird an entire day before it marinates, which allows the flavor to permeate and makes the flesh really tender, juicy, and zingy. It's crazy good.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
  • Sea salt


  • 2 1⁄2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup extra- virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon piment d'Espelette
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut in half

First, clean the chicken. Rinse the bird under cold water, and dry with a paper towel.

Now butterfly the chicken, which means taking out all but the drumstick and wing bones so the chicken will lay flat as it cooks. Start by removing the wing tips at the first joint. Then turn the chicken vertically so its head (or at least where its head used to be) is on your cutting board. Holding on to the tail, run a sharp boning knife down the right side of the spine, from top to bottom. Repeat on the other side and remove the backbone.

With the bird flat on the table, breast- side down and legs pointing away from you, make a small vertical cut in the white cartilage that runs over the breastbone. Bend both halves of the chicken backward at the cut, which will make the breastbone pop right through. Run your thumbs or index fingers down both sides of the breastbone, pull to separate it from the meat, and then pull the bone out. If it doesn't come out easily, use your knife to loosen any remaining bone or cartilage.

Finally, with the tip of your knife, make a slit along each thighbone to the knee joint. Use your fingers to move the flesh away from the bone and pull the bone out.

Season the chicken on both sides, slightly less than you'd normally season if you were cooking right away. Put the chicken on a plate, cover it with plastic, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, combine all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss the chicken in there and gently rub the marinade into both the skin and the flesh. Let it sit for at least 1 hour and as many as 12 hours. (Put it back in the fridge if it's going to sit for more than an hour and remove it from the fridge about an hour or two before you want to cook it.)

If grilling the chicken, build a fire on one side of a charcoal grill and let it burn down to embers. Alternatively, preheat your oven to 450°F.

To grill the chicken: Cook the chicken skin- side down over indirect heat and positioned so the legs are just touching the direct heat. Cover the grill with the air holes open so you get good high heat. Cook for 6 minutes, then turn the chicken so the breasts are over the direct heat. Cook for another 6 minutes. Flip the bird over and do it again (another 6 minutes with the legs over direct heat, another 6 minutes with the breasts over direct heat).

To tell if the chicken's done, you can put a sharp paring knife in the breast and thigh (the thickest parts of the bird), hold it for a few seconds, then touch it to your arm. If it's hot, it's done. People will tell you that you shouldn't be poking and prodding your meat to tell if it's done, but I'm telling you that there's no human being on this planet who can tell you if a whole chicken is done just by touching it. There's nothing wrong with poking and prodding. Really. You could just use an instant- read meat thermometer instead; the chicken's done at 160°F. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes.

To roast the chicken in the oven: Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a big ovenproof skillet and heat over high heat until it smokes; then put the chicken, skin- side down, in the pan and cook over medium heat until a nice golden crust forms, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven, without flipping the chicken over, and cook for 10 more minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for 8 minutes for a total of 23- ish minutes. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes in the pan.

Put the chicken on a carving board and hack it up. Or more specifically: Transfer the chicken to a carving board and cut it into 8 pieces. Start by cutting it in half from the neck to the tail. Next, remove each breast from the leg and thigh, then cut through each breast on the diagonal, dividing it into two pieces. Then cut the thighs from the legs at the knee joint.

Squeeze lemon juice over the whole thing on the cutting board and be sure to save all the juices- it's important to pour them over the chicken just before you serve it, especially if it's over a mound of Frites (page 42).

Reprinted with permission from Cheers to the Publican by Paul Kahan and Cosmo Goss with Rachel Holtzman, copyright © 2017. Photography by Peden + Munk. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House." 

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on February 11th, 2018.


  • ejsimpson  on  1/3/2018 at 8:39 PM

    Too many choices! However I would like to start with Ode to Chef David cassoulet!

  • Aproporpoise  on  1/3/2018 at 9:27 PM

    Ooh can’t wait to fry something in the Parmesan tempura batter!

  • jr0717  on  1/3/2018 at 10:45 PM

    I was hooked from the first page - the radishes with red lentil falafel, yogurt, and spiced honey sound lovely!

  • heyjude  on  1/3/2018 at 11:42 PM

    Grilled Cucumbers and Zhoug with Burrata

  • EmilyR  on  1/4/2018 at 12:35 AM

    Cauliflower caponata

  • catmommy9  on  1/4/2018 at 2:40 AM

    So many, but I'd go with the famous chicken!

  • dbielick  on  1/4/2018 at 5:44 AM

    Mussels in sour beer

  • Kristjudy  on  1/4/2018 at 6:07 AM

    The little gem salad

  • Dannausc  on  1/4/2018 at 6:57 AM

    Hazelnut mayonnaise

  • sberes  on  1/4/2018 at 8:29 AM

    The roasted garlic marinade!

  • kmn4  on  1/4/2018 at 8:52 AM

    Honeycrisp apple and kohlrabi salad with burnt chile chimichurri

  • ravensfan  on  1/4/2018 at 11:09 AM

    Pork rinds with poof powder

  • Angryyew  on  1/4/2018 at 11:57 AM

    Peaches, grilled green beans, and white balsamic dressing with burrata

  • feliciakw  on  1/4/2018 at 12:00 PM

    ALL of the sauces, marinades, and dressings - starting with Ranchovy!!

  • lpatterson412  on  1/4/2018 at 12:31 PM

    Trey's Ashes Clam Boil!

  • daniellespinato1  on  1/4/2018 at 12:36 PM

    Fava beans, English peas, and green garlic salsa verde with burrata sounds like quite the dish!

  • contest718  on  1/4/2018 at 2:08 PM

    Frites (with an egg on top)

  • tcjanes  on  1/4/2018 at 3:17 PM

    Publican chicken.

  • lean1  on  1/4/2018 at 5:33 PM

    Radishes with red lentils sounds like an excellent start!

  • janv  on  1/4/2018 at 5:57 PM

    burnt chile chimichurri

  • Siegal  on  1/5/2018 at 9:34 AM

    I love chicken pate

  • sarahawker  on  1/5/2018 at 10:46 AM

    Dungeness crab and curried potatoes

  • infotrop  on  1/5/2018 at 1:07 PM

    Ham chop in hay, which is very fun to say. Not sure I'd be able to Tropea onions, but presumably I could substitute.

  • lgroom  on  1/5/2018 at 8:34 PM

    Cauliflower caponata.

  • brigitm  on  1/5/2018 at 9:46 PM

    Pork belly with Calabrian chile sauce.

  • Mariaannette  on  1/6/2018 at 4:21 PM

    Shrimp ceviche with the best homemade crackers (page 89)

  • AnnaZed  on  1/7/2018 at 12:22 AM

    Radishes with red lentil falafel, yogurt, and spiced honey

  • RSW  on  1/7/2018 at 12:31 PM

    Maple-roasted winter squash with piri-piri sauce

  • DarcyVaughn  on  1/7/2018 at 4:28 PM

    sand dabs with tangerine butter

  • minilynn3  on  1/8/2018 at 11:05 AM

    Hazlenut Mayonaise

  • hibeez  on  1/8/2018 at 11:25 AM

    Roasted beets with green garlic labneh.

  • sgump  on  1/8/2018 at 1:31 PM

    Lots of fancy and exciting things going on in this book, but I'd probably start with something simple and straightforward: the pimiento cheese!

  • lozzle77  on  1/8/2018 at 2:24 PM

    Hazelnut mayonnaise

  • bstewart  on  1/8/2018 at 3:53 PM

    Cauliflower caponata!

  • motherofpearl81  on  1/9/2018 at 12:36 PM

    Swordfish and butternut squash in acqua pazza (

  • skipeterson  on  1/9/2018 at 6:28 PM

    Mussels in sour beer

  • jmay42066  on  1/9/2018 at 10:21 PM

    Dungeness crab and curried potatoes

  • tcjanes  on  1/10/2018 at 11:11 PM

    Tokyo-style trout with Publican spice.

  • tarae1204  on  1/11/2018 at 4:11 PM

    Fried eggs

  • ktpotat  on  1/12/2018 at 6:38 PM

    Garlic aioli

  • jenniebakes  on  1/12/2018 at 6:39 PM

    I haven't made sausage in a long time and I'd love to try the Mettwurst!

  • sf112959  on  1/12/2018 at 9:20 PM

    The Parmesan tempura batter!

  • Julia  on  1/12/2018 at 10:27 PM

    Parmesan tempura batter!

  • Shelley.b  on  1/13/2018 at 7:26 AM

    Roasted garlic marinade

  • RickPearson54  on  1/13/2018 at 8:32 AM

    Fried eggs

  • NaomiH  on  1/13/2018 at 8:34 AM

    The Publican fish fry

  • tararr  on  1/13/2018 at 2:30 PM

    Mussels in beer

  • LaurenE  on  1/13/2018 at 3:13 PM

    Cauliflower caponata

  • robynsanyal  on  1/13/2018 at 8:59 PM

    Parmesan tempura batter

  • PennyG  on  1/14/2018 at 5:06 PM

    Roasted garlic marinade

  • Shelley.b  on  1/15/2018 at 10:35 AM

    Shrimp ceviche

  • amandabeck  on  1/15/2018 at 1:29 PM

    Flap steak with strawberries, mint, and feta!

  • VeryVigario  on  1/16/2018 at 8:01 PM

    Tokyo-style trout with Publican spice

  • tennyogirl  on  1/17/2018 at 11:45 AM

    Barbecued carrots

  • milgwimper  on  1/19/2018 at 5:09 PM

    Fried sweet potatoes with hazelnut mayo and Shabazi vinaigrette

  • Elena Rose  on  1/19/2018 at 9:42 PM

    Roasted Beets with green garlic labneh

  • Scotsman61  on  1/19/2018 at 11:58 PM

    Pork belly with Calabrian chile sauce.

  • rchesser  on  1/21/2018 at 10:01 PM

    Hazelnut Mayonaise

  • Sfgordon  on  1/24/2018 at 1:43 PM

    Sand dabs with tangerine butter

  • Jenamarie  on  1/27/2018 at 10:04 PM

    Green garlic labneh

  • Karla123  on  2/1/2018 at 10:06 AM

    I love making bread from scratch, particularly naturally leavened bread., and the ingredients in a loaf of "1979 multigrain" is full of hearty goodness I treasure.

  • abihamm  on  2/3/2018 at 4:49 PM

    Poppy-seed vinaigrette

  • t.t  on  2/4/2018 at 12:09 AM

    Radishes with red lentil falafel, yogurt, and spiced honey

  • cambridgecook  on  2/5/2018 at 3:19 PM

    mussels in sour beer

  • mjes  on  2/5/2018 at 6:41 PM

    Radishes with red lentil falafel, yogurt, and spiced honey

  • lebarron2001  on  2/8/2018 at 4:01 PM

    Publican chicken

  • matag  on  2/8/2018 at 9:56 PM

    Spiced honey

  • orchidlady01  on  2/9/2018 at 3:59 AM

    Garlic aioli

  • soffner  on  2/10/2018 at 8:57 PM

    I want to make the Publican Fish Fry and the Fried caper remoulade

  • choppergirl  on  2/11/2018 at 10:14 AM

    Shabazi vinaigrette

  • verorenee  on  2/11/2018 at 1:25 PM

    Roasted beets with green garlic labneh

  • niniacedo  on  2/11/2018 at 10:59 PM

    Publican chicken

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