A question about a recipe: Zuni Café Bread Salad with Currants, Pine Nuts, Scallions & Roasted Chicken

I have a question about the recipe "Zuni Café Bread Salad with Currants, Pine Nuts, Scallions & Roasted Chicken" from Kenzi Wilbur. Does anyone know why the recipe says not to use sourdough? Is it the taste? Or is it the texture? And has anyone used sourdough anyway?

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  • Posted by: KSDB
  • October 5, 2017


702551 October 5, 2017
In the original Zuni Cafe cookbook, here is what Judy Rodgers wrote:

"I don't use sourdough or levain-type bread for this recipe, finding the sour flavor too strong and rich for this dish."

Sadly, many of these edited/transcribed cookbook recipes strip a lot of the valuable points out. This Food52 edited version of Rodgers recipe is an example of what is missing.

The Zuni Cafe roasted chicken/bread salad recipe is 4.5 pages. Stripping it down to just cooking instructions destroys most of the value of Rodgers' writing.

Stephanie B. October 5, 2017
I agree with AntoniaJames. It really depends on the sourdough: while an in your face, San Francisco sourdough might be very tart, a "European" style sourdough might be very mild. I use European in quotes because mine is from the exotic land of Pennsylvania, and yields what might be considered European-style sourdough. I would describe it more as fruity and nutty than sour - and when I used it as a side for a tangy eggplant dish, the sourness of my bread was over powered. On the other hand, I don't like the really sour sourdoughs, and didn't think I liked sourdough bread until I tried a mild one.

The crumb of sourdough is not inherently dense or tough either. If it's a true rustic, lean bread it should have an irregular, open crumb whether it's made with commercial or wild yeast (though I aspire to have a more open crumb, a girl can dream).
AntoniaJames October 5, 2017
May I respectfully suggest that it depends entirely on the sourdough. The seeded artisan breads I make (Chad Robertson's baguette dough, to which I add the classic French quartet of millet, toasted sesame and flax seeds and poppy seeds), made after multiple feedings of my natural levain, which give the dough a deep, almost fruity aroma, makes excellent bread salads. I'm certain it would be terrific in this one. And I'm equally certain that the late, great Judy Rodgers would agree. ;o)
nance October 5, 2017
Sourdough also tends to have a really dense crumb and tougher crust, both impediments to a true bread "salad," in which bread should readily absorb liquids and become soft with its crust a sort of crisp/tender counterpoint, not chewy/tough.
Veronica October 5, 2017
I agree with HalfPint - Sourdough's can be REALLY sour and probably would distract from all of the other flavors in the dish. That said, many supermarket sourdoughs are on the mild side - so you could definitely try making it with a sourdough that has less pucker power!
HalfPint October 5, 2017
I think it's the flavor. Some sourdoughs are too sour. Throws off the flavors of the rest of the ingredients. I don't like it either.
Stephanie B. October 5, 2017
I'd be curious to know the answer as well. I can't think of a reason sourdough wouldn't work here, in fact I think it sounds good.
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