My first taste of chef Jody Williams’ delicious food was at a small restaurant in West Soho called Giorgione. That first bite of her carciofi alla guidia—fried crisp and salty, with all the tenderness of spring—was enough to turn me into a dedicated follower of her food, which I’ve been now for years. She’s traveled from kitchen to kitchen in some of hottest New York City restaurants, finally resting at a place to call her very own in the West Village. It’s called Buvette, and it’s a local favorite that draws in the fooderati, if you will: editors from Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart Living sidle up to the zinc bar for breakfasts of exquisitely fresh eggs and hand-rolled pastries; bright, citrusy salads at lunch; and lusty mini crostini and coq au vin for dinner. Last year Williams opened a Buvette in the Pigalle section of Paris, where she’s charmed locals with her own personal spin on their traditional bistro fare.
This spring, her first cookbook hits the shelves, just in time for Mother’s Day brunch. It’s called Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, and it’s a manual of just that, including a personal tour of Williams’ culinary theory loaded with simple, fresh recipes and entertaining anecdotes that made me email some dear friends immediately and invite them for brunch, purely for the purpose of putting those delightful recipes into action. One of Williams’ favorite recipes (and a signature Buvette meal) is the roast chicken salad. Hearty but delicately seasoned, it’s fresh and flavorful, and just right for spring. Go find the freshest chicken you can lay your hands on, pre-heat your oven, and invite some friends over. You just might want to eat this every day, as Williams claims she happily could. I know I do.
Roast Chicken Salad and Haricots Verts with Mustard Vinaigrette from Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food by Jody Williams.
8 small waxy potatoes
¾ pound haricots verts (about 2 large handfuls), stem ends trimmed
4 large handfuls lovely salad greens (a mix of butter lettuce, endive, and watercress is nice) Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 small Roast Chicken still warm
2 radishes, thinly sliced
Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and add a spoonful of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the cooking water and set them aside to cool; keep the cooking water at a boil. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, break them in half, and set them aside.
Meanwhile, add the haricots verts to the cooking water and cook until they are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the haricots verts and transfer to a plate or bowl to cool.
Arrange the greens on a large platter and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Whisk together the vinaigrette and the mustards and drizzle the greens with one third of the dressing. Toss the potatoes and the green beans with another third of the dressing and lay them on top of the dressed greens. Tear all of the meat and skin from the chicken in large-ish pieces and scatter over the vegetables. Drizzle the whole thing with the remaining dressing, scatter the radishes over the top, and serve immediately.