Fricasseed Chicken with Vinegar

Pollo al Aceto

Next month will mark the five-year anniversary of losing Marcella Hazan, and yet she seems still to be with me in the kitchen whenever I cook one of her recipes. Maybe it’s her writing’s conversational style that guides me through the steps or the emphasis she placed on the taste of a dish that keeps me turning to her books.

I remember my first one in 1973. I was a graduate student boarding with an academic family whose splendid kitchen became mine when they left for the summer. The first recipe I tried was her Bolognese sauce and I was hooked. In fact, it’s the sauce I continue to make today. Among my favorites are her veal stew with tomatoes and peas, her pork loin cooked in milk, her meatloaf with porcini, and her riso al telephono, or boiled aborio rice mixed with butter and fresh mozzarella, which as it melts in the rice morphs into threads that resemble telephone wires.

The recipe for today’s post comes from her 1986 book Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, Fricasseed Chicken with Vinegar, or Pollo Con l’Aceto . As with so many of her recipes, it uses a minimum of ingredients yet yields a richly favored dish with perfect texture.

I made just a few changes to the recipe. Rather than using a cut-up chicken, I opted for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I also seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper before the dredging with the flour rather than seasoning it after browning. Finally I used a bit more rosemary and vinegar than was called for.

I served the chicken with plain rice, which served as the prefect foil for the chicken’s succulent flavors.

Pollo Con l’Aceto, Fricasseed Chicken with Vinegar

(4 servings)



3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, washed and thoroughly patted dry

1/2 cup flour, spread on a plate

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

4 flat anchovy fillets, chopped very fine

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup wine vinegar


1.  Choose a lidded saute’ pan that can subsequently accommodate all the chicken pieces without overlapping. Put in the vegetable oil and turn on the heat to high, leaving the pan uncovered.

2.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour on all sides and slip them into the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the chicken, turning the pieces from time to time, until a golden crust forms on all sides.

Browning the chicken

Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and several grindings of pepper.

Transferred chicken

3.  Discard the oil from the pan and wipe the pan clean, making sure you remove every trace of flour.

4.  Combine the rosemary, garlic and chopped anchovies in a small bowl.

Rosemary, garlic, & anchovies

5.  Put the olive oil into the pan and turn on the heat to medium. Add the rosemary, garlic, and anchovy mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic exudes its characteristic scent.

Cooking the garlic, rosemary & anchovies

Note: The dish, prepared to this point, can be set aside for several hours before completion.

6.  Return the chicken to the pan, turn the pieces 2 or 3 times, then add the vinegar. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, letting the vinegar fumes dissipate, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pan.

Cooking the chicken

Cook, turning the chicken pieces from time to time, until the chicken feels tender through and through when pricked with a fork. It should take about 1 hour. If, before the chicken is done, you find that there is no more cooking liquid left in the pan, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water. Serve promptly when done.

The cooked chicken

Wine Pairing: Beaujolais, Grenache Rose


Crispy Risotto Pancake

Risotto al Salto

After making a risotto with saffron last week, I had enough leftover for another meal for two. I could have reheated it slowly, but I thought I would look for other options. Most cookbooks and internet sites suggested making a southern Italian favorite, arancini, or rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, breaded, and deep fried. Twenty years ago, this would have been my choice. But having just turned 70, I thought I would look for a more healthful alternative.

As I searched the internet, I began to see recipes for risotto pancakes, but many of these were similar to the arancini, that is stuffed with cheese and breaded, except they were flattened. Eventually, however, I came across a recipe on for a crispy rice pancake, risotto al salto, that involved less fat and neither bread nor stuffing with cheese. Although it suggested serving the cake with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, I thought my risotto already had sufficient cheese for our liking.

The recipe also provided instructions for flipping the cake with two oiled plates, which I thought to be a more involved than using a thin border-less pizza tin. But if you din’t have a similar tin, you may want to try the recipe’s dual-plate method.

I’m happy to report that the result exceeded my expectations. The pancake was perfectly crisp, thoroughly warmed though, and the rice still had a nice texture.


2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups leftover risotto, such as risotto alla Milanese, fully cooled
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, for serving (I skipped the cheese.)


1. Lightly grease two flat 10- or 11-inch plates (you can use any oil for this, or even some extra butter). In a well-seasoned 10-inch carbon steel skillet or a 10-inch nonstick skillet, melt butter over high heat until foaming. Add rice and, using a spatula, pat it down to form a round pancake shape.

2. Continue cooking over high heat, patting the top and sides to form a compact, pancake-like round, and swirling to keep the pancake moving and to avoid hot-spots (it should not stick), until very well browned on on the first side (you can tell it’s ready when you see that it has browned around the edges). If the pancake comes apart as you swirl and jiggle it, simply use the spatula to press it back together.

Frying the Pancake

3. Carefully slide the pancake out onto one of the prepared plates, then invert the other prepared plate on top of it. In one very quick motion, flip the plates, then lift off the top plate. Very carefully slide the pancake back into the skillet; using the spatula to patch up any spots that were damaged during the flip. Continue cooking, swirling, jiggling, and patting with the spatula, until well browned on the second side.

The Finished Pancake

4. Carefully slide the pancake out onto a warmed serving plate and grate the cheese all over. Serve right away.

Wine Pairing: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc

Risotto with Saffron

Risotto with Saffron

Once again, I ventured into the world of risotto and once again my performance anxiety struck. I’ve written about this affliction before on this blog a number of times and, by now, one would think I’d have overcome it. But no. One failure at making risotto years ago and visions of my guests politely chewing chalky grains of under-cooked rice keep haunting me. Out, out, damned spot!

Nevertheless, a few nights ago I faced my fears and made another risotto. It was a success; in fact, my better half admitted to scraping the pot with his finger to savor the last morsels of rice as he was cleaning up. If I had had more confidence, there would have been more pictures illustrating this post. But I think that my recent achievement with the dish has left me far more confident.

My recipe comes from a small book by famed New York City restaurateur Tony May titled Italian Cuisine. Although, like most recipes for the famed Risotto alla Milanese, it called for beef marrow and meat broth, I omitted the marrow and used chicken broth.

I heated 1 1/4 quarts of chicken broth on a burner close to my enameled cast-iron risotto pot.

To the pot I added 2 ounces of butter with a little olive oil and sauteed a cup of finely chopped yellow onion sprinkled with a little salt. Once the onions became tender, I added 12 ounces of Carnaroli rice and, over medium high heat, toasted it until the fat was absorbed. I then added 1/2 of a dry white wine and stirred until the wine had evaporated.

Next, I added a ladle of the warm broth and, still over medium high heat, stirred constantly until the rice absorbed the broth. I continued to add broth, one ladle at a time, and to stir until each ladleful was absorbed before adding the next one.

About 10 minutes into the cooking, I added to the rice a large pinch of saffron that I had dissolved in a little broth.

I continued adding broth and stirring until the rice was cooked, al dente, but not chalky, about 20 minutes. I then turned off the burner and added another ounce of butter and 6 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. I stirred the rice until the ingredients were blended thoroughly and the risotto was smooth.

Success. Delicious. Confident. Now I just have to hold on to this feeling.

Wine Pairing: Frascati

Roasted Sausages & Grapes

Roasted Sausages & Grapes

Although I enjoy serving on the board of my condo, it can at times throw me off my schedule for dinner. Such was the case last night. I had planned one dish and, owing to an emergency board meeting, had to substitute another that could be on the table at a reasonable hour for a weeknight.

Fortunately, we had some sausages on hand that were intended for another dish as well as some delicious seedless red grapes. This combination of ingredients brought to mind a dish I prepared a few years ago, but a quick internet search uncovered an easier alternative. Unlike the earlier recipe, which called for sautéing the ingredients, this approach called for roasting them. And I must admit that on a weeknight I prefer roasting as a cooking method because it makes for easier cleanup than sautéing.

The recipe I found comes from an Ina Garten episode on The Food Network in which she has chef, Johanne Killeen, from a favorite Italian restaurant, Al Forno in Providence RI, prepare the dish called simply: “Roasted Sausages and Grapes.”

I made a few changes to the original recipe, substituting 1 pound of Italian mild sausages for 3 pound mix of sweet and hot and halving the amount of grapes. I also added about a cup of chopped red onion and a couple of tablespoons of chopped sage to the grapes and sausage before roasting. Finally, rather than using the suggested focaccia as an accompaniment, I served a simple polenta.



1 pound Italian mild sausage

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups (approx. 1 pound) red seedless grapes, stems removed

4 tablespoons dry red wine, preferably Chianti

3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Polenta, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Parboil the sausages in water to cover for 8 minutes to rid them of excess fat.

Parboiling the Sausage

3. Melt the butter in a large heatproof roasting pan, add the grapes, and toss to coat.

Coating the Grapes

4. Over moderately high heat add the wine. Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the wine has reduced by half.

Reducing the Wine

5. Using tongs, transfer the parboiled sausages to the roasting pan and push them down in the grapes so the sausages will not brown too quickly.

Adding the Sausage

6. Roast in the oven, turning the sausages once, until the grapes are soft and the sausages have browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

Turning the Sausage

7. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over a medium-high heat and add the balsamic vinegar. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the roasting pan, and allow the vinegar and juices to reduce until they are thick and syrupy. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausages and grapes to a serving platter.

Reducing the Balsamic

8. Pour the sauce over the sausages and grapes and serve immediately, accompanied with fresh bread.

The Finished Dish

Wine Pairing: Chianti, Sangiovese, Merlot


Eggs a la Tripe

Eggs a la Tripe

A recent post by veteran food blogger Diane Darrow inspired me to make a 60s recipe from Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cook Book, “Eggs a la Tripe.” Have no fear; despite the name there’s no tripe involved. The recipe derives its title from the texture of the dish, which is supposed to resemble the creamy character of the organ meat when it’s been cooked to perfection.

As we sat down to dinner and looked at our plates of richly sauced hard-boiled eggs accompanied by steamed rice, and had our first taste, we felt transported for a while from today’s tempestuous political climate to the Kennedy years in the White House where, if I may use the lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner, “once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.”

You can find more details about this dish on Darrow’s blog, Another Year in Recipes.

String Beans and Spaghetti

String Beans and Spaghetti

Here’s a simple dish based on memories of my Sicilian mother in the kitchen. I hadn’t planned on posting this recipe, so the only photo I have is of the plated pasta. However, the preparation is so straightforward that illustration might appear excessive.

My mother would often serve this dish during Lent, but also during the summer when she preferred the patio to the kitchen. Although she would French her string beans by hand, I use good-quality frozen ones.

Sometimes if they’re on hand, I’ll saute some thinly sliced scallions along with the garlic or add some toasted pine nuts to the sauteed beans.


2 cloves garlic minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Crushed red pepper to taste
8 ounces French-cut string beans (I used frozen.)
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces spaghetti or linguine broken into 1-inch pieces
Grated Pecorino Romano


  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add a good amount of salt.
  2. When the water returns to a boil, place the string beans in a sieve and blanch in the water for about two minutes.
  3. When the beans are tender but still crisp, remove them in the sieve and shock in a bowl of iced water. Lift the beans from the water and set aside.
  4. Bring the water used to blanch the beans back to a boil and add the broken pasta. Cook until al dente.
  5. Meanwhile, in a wide skillet, over medium-low heat saute the garlic and crushed pepper until the garlic softens but does not get brown. Then add the drained beans to the pan and saute for two to three minutes.
  6. When the pasta is done, transfer to the skillet and toss with the beans over low heat for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Turn off the heat and add a generous amount of the grated cheese.
  8. Serve on warmed plates along with some grated cheese for sprinkling.

Wine Pairing: Grillo, Greco di Tuffo