As Chef Emeril would announce at the beginning of his “Emeril Live” cooking show on the Food Network, “Stuart is in the house.” By way of introduction, Stuart is my brother-in-law, a gourmet with extraordinary good taste, and will be our special chef of the day. If you love Italian food, I promise you’re in for a treat.
Whereas I tend to favor French food, Stuart on the other hand loves Italian. All of his married life, he’s lived in close-in Long Island and dined more times than I can keep track of in some of New York City’s finest Italian restaurants, including Mario Batali’s award winning Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in Greenwich Village. Recently he and his wife retired and relocated near us in the mountains. While we were home recently he prepared one of his Italian favorites for us as the very first guests in his new home – Chicken Scarpariello.
Chicken Scarpariello is an Italian dish and means “chicken shoemaker’s style,” because a cobbler might have eaten this dish. However, my research confirms that Scarpariello may have also been a testament to the resourcefulness of Italian immigrant cooks who managed to achieve the seductive flavors of their homeland from the few ingredients they found in America.
Many recipes for this dish call for a whole frying chicken, but Stuart used chicken thighs for their depth of flavor and ease of serving. It’s a dish perfectly suited to serving family style at the table, as the photo shows below. Grazie Stuart for being our chef of the day and I hope you’ll bless us with more of your delicious Italian food in the future.
Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen – serves 6
12 chicken thighs with bones and skin (2 per person)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
½ pound sweet (also called mild in some markets) Italian sausage (preferably without fennel seeds), cut into 1-inch pieces
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 pickled cherry peppers, cut in half and stemmed
¼ cup red-wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Wash and pat dry the chicken thighs, then season generously with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add to the skillet as many pieces of chicken that will comfortably fit without touching, skin side down, taking care not to crowd the skillet. You will most probably need to do brown the chicken in batches. Cook the chicken, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
The secret to gold-brown chicken pieces is to leave them be as they cook. They will brown better if you aren’t constantly turning them or checking on their progress.
Remove chicken pieces as they brown, and drain them briefly on paper towels. Place the drained chicken thighs in a roasting pan large enough to hold all of them in a single layer. Repeat the cooking with the remaining chicken, adding more oil to the pan as necessary and adjusting the heat to prevent the bits that stick to the pan from overbrowning. As room becomes available in the skillet after all of the chicken has been added, tuck in pieces of sausage and cook, turning until browned on all sides.
Remove chicken and sausage from the pan, add garlic, and cook until golden, being careful not to burn it. Scatter the cherry peppers in the skillet, season with salt and pepper and stir for a minute. Pour in the vinegar and bring to a boil, scraping into the liquid the browned bits that stick to the skillet, and cook until the vinegar is reduced by half. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the roasting pan and stir to coat. Place the chicken in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and sticky, like molasses, about 10 minutes. If the sauce is still too thin place the roasting pan directly over medium-high heat on the stovetop and cook, stirring until it is reduced about a minute or two. Once the sauce is thickened, toss in parsley and serve.
Buon Appetito from my featured chef of the day, my brother-in-law and good friend Stuart.
This recipe will be linked to Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Won’t you join us?