Why is The Standard Grill‘s recipe for “Million Dollar Chicken” making its triumphant return after previously getting crossed off the menu? Because the award-winning Meatpacking District restaurant’s founding chef is back serving his version with sourdough on the side.
Michelin-winning chef Dan Silverman, who spent the last decade assisting with notable NYC restaurants including Minetta Tavern, Pastis and Balthazar as well as a good chunk of time working with smaller restaurant groups and living upstate due to the pandemic, opened the Standard in 2009 as the hotel-set restaurant’s first executive chef and led it for five years before moving on to other opportunities.
Trained at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, Silverman didn’t really visit his old restaurant or the neighborhood after he left. But, when an old friend offered Silverman the chance to take charge of his old stomping and chomping grounds, he accepted the offer and things developed quite quickly.
“It was an interesting opportunity to come back to New York City, so I took it. The Standard is very much a part of my DNA,” Silverman tells InsideHook. “When I first came back, I had to stay in the hotel for a month because I didn’t have an apartment. I was using The Standard for all my meals and it was kind of interesting to sit in the dining room and listen to people talk about the place and the food. I got to take a long, hard look at it and think about what it had been back in the day when it was a juggernaut and what it had evolved into.”
The Standard Grill’s Recipe for “Million Dollar Chicken” Will Cost You Considerably LessNew Zealand chef Jean-Paul Lourdes recently returned the longtime favorite to the NYC restaurant’s menu
While Silverman can’t, or politely won’t, say exactly what felt off about the Standard’s evolution, he knew it didn’t fit into his original vision for the restaurant. “It just seemed that over the course of time, it had kind of moved and shifted in a way that didn’t seem quite right to my eyes and sensibility,” he says. “A lot of the food was different, so I’ve been looking at opportunities to improve it, grow it and make it better. It’s been a great challenge, but I put together a great team and we’ve been working to bring it back to a level I thought it could attain. We keep trying to push that a little higher every day when we come to work. I’m really digging it.”
A method Silverman and his team settled on to push the restaurant’s standards forward was to look back at what had worked in the past. So, to give diners a taste of the Standard’s salad days, Silverman reworked some of the core menu items, including the aforementioned Million Dollar Chicken. “There were a couple of things that were ‘still on the menu’ that had morphed into something else and needed some love. The Million Dollar Chicken, at its heart, is a really simple dish. Not to speak ill of anyone who’s worked here, but the chicken recipe got kind of complicated,” Silverman says.
To restore the $59 dish — which got its name because someone in the kitchen once theorized the only thing better than a perfectly roasted chicken is a Million Dollar Chicken — to its poultry pedestal, Silverman began sourcing his birds from a Sullivan County chicken farmer he’d met upstate who’s been in business for 20 years. According to Silverman, all that was needed from there was to make sure the seasoning and cooking of the chicken was up to snuff.
“When you find products that are really great, you don’t need to do a lot to them to bring out their inherent greatness,” he says. “This dish is chicken, bread, salt, pepper and a little bit of spice. That’s essentially it. At its heart, my recipe is to season it, put it in the oven, cook it until it’s done, take it out, put a squeeze of lemon on it and eat it. The recipe is admittedly more than that, but it’s really not that much more than that.”
And here it is.
Note: Silverman uses metric weight for all his professional recipes but provided U.S. conversions that aren’t quite apples to apples.
Dan Silverman’s Million Dollar Chicken Recipe
Prep Time: Overnight
Servings: One bird
- Sicilian dried orgegano, 0.6 oz.
- Fennel pollen, 1.7 oz.
- Espelette pepper, 1.25 oz.
- Kosher salt,, 3.8 oz.
- Sumac, 0.4 oz.
- Sugar, 0.7 oz.
- Bay leaf, 2
- Lemon, halved, 1
- Garlic head, halved, 1
- Kosher salt, 1 tbsp
- One whole farm chicken
- Sourdough bread, cut into 75″ thick slices, 2-3
- Olive oil
- Creme fraiche, 4 tbsp.
- Lemon zest, 1 tsp.
- Espelette, 0.5 tsp.
Combine oregano, fennel pollen, espelette, kosher salt, sumac and sugar in a bowl. Mix well. Store in an airtight container away from light. This makes more than enough rub for one chicken.
Season chicken liberally with dry mix and air dry overnight, refrigerated.
Stuff the cavity of the bird with bay, lemon, garlic and salt and truss. Take chicken from refrigeration 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 400-425 degrees.
Place sourdough in a roasting pan, drizzle with oil.
Place chicken on bread and roast in oven 45-55 minutes, basting occasionally.
Remove chicken from oven and rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into pieces.
Brush pieces with creme fraiche/lemon/espelette mixture and return to hot oven to brown.
Serve chicken with cut up dripping bread and lemon wedges.
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