I’m often asked which is my favorite Italian regional cuisine. And although my heritage is Neapolitan and Sicilian, and I love the hearty cooking of Tuscany, the exquisite dishes of the Veneto, and the aromatic braises of Piemonte, Lazio is my first choice. There’s something of about the earthiness of Roman cooking, its subtle use of spice and herbs, its tantalizing fried plates, and incomparable pastas that bring be back for visits either by traveling or by cooking.

Indeed, when I cook Roman more often than not I feel like I’m back in the Eternal City at one of my favorite trattorias or al fresco cafes. That’s how I felt last night, as we dined on a delectable pollo in padella, literally “chicken in a frying pan.” This simply prepared dish uses a minimum of ingredients to yield a sauté of chicken so aromatic with fresh bay and rosemary and coated with a silky sauce flavored with onions, garlic, and white wine.

My source for the recipe was one of my go to books for Italian cuisine, Cooking the Roman Wayby David Downie. Although sadly out of print, it’s still widely available online and even as an ebook. In fact, the Kindle version on Amazon is 99 cents, a small price to pay for book that’s not only a source for authentic recipes but for guided tour of Rome and its culinary traditions.

Pollo in Padella Adapted from Cooking the Roman Way

3 pounds skin on-bone in chicken thighs
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole fresh bay leaves
3 heaping tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced
3/4 cup Italian dry white wine, preferably Frascati

Pat the chicken dry and trim off and discard any excess fat.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a heavy sauté pan large enough to accommodate the chicken in a single layer. When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs skin-side down and season the exposed side with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, brown the chicken well on both sides, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Chicken browning
Chicken browning

Transfer the chicken to a bowl with a slotted spoon and pour off all the fat and oil from the pan.

Return the pan to the stove and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the onion. Over medium heat, sauté the onions, stirring often, until the onions become translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté stirring for 1 more minute stirring to avoid the garlic getting brown.

Stir in the bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary.

The onion, garlic, and herbs
The onion, garlic, and herbs

Add the chicken, one piece at a time, along with any remaining juices, turning them to coat with the oil and the herbs. Sauté over medium heat for one minute. Add the wine, and bring to a boil to evaporate it for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of rosemary, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Turn the chicken once or twice during this time.

Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately with the pan sauce.

Wine Pairing: Frascati, Montepulicano d’Abruzzo

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