When my husband recently asked me to prepare Chicken Scarpariello, one of his favorite dishes (of which there seem to be hundreds), I agreed—but only if he could find a recipe in one of my cookbooks.
I thought the search would present a challenge since I don’t have many cookbooks on Italian-American cooking, of which scarpariello is a classic example. But he found one, much sooner than I had expected, in a book that he had gifted me a few years back: Stanley Tucci’s The Tucci Cookbook.
Although celebrity cookbooks may not be my first choice for recipes, this one looked pretty good and Tucci’s food-credentials seem to be on the rise given his upcoming series on CNN, “Searching for Italy,” that will focus on the country’s regional cuisines.
Tucci’s recipe, “Chicken with Sausage and Peppers” or “Spezzato di Pollo ‘Scappinello,’” seems to be a variation of chicken scarpariello; however, other than one link to this recipe, Googling “scappinello” yielded nothing else food related. Names aside, the book’s ingredients and procedure were close to most recipes for the dish I found elsewhere, with one glaring exception: liquid. I re-read the recipe twice and found neither the wine nor the broth used in most other recipes. Indeed, it was this omission that accounts for our recipe’s only fault: a lack of sauce. I can only attribute this exception to the author’s wanting the potatoes to brown as they roasted in the pan along with all the other ingredients.
My potatoes, however, although perfectly tender and delicious, only had a hint of color, which may be due to my using a little wine to deglaze the sauté pan and adding a small amount of the brine from the vinegared peppers, which were not part of the original recipe but which my husband claimed were “essential” to scarpariello.
Nevertheless, even with my pale potatoes, the dish was delicious, offering a mélange of flavors, from spicy pork, to savory chicken, to sweet vegetables, and earthy potatoes. There was just the right amount of heat from the red-pepper flakes (with which I was generous) and woodsy notes from the rosemary and sage.
Next time, I prepare it, I’ll probably add a little more wine to deglaze the sauté pan and some broth to the roasting pan, use the Idaho potatoes called for by the recipe rather than the yellow potatoes dictated by availability, and try to find whole vinegared cherry tomatoes to cut in half. I might also roast the potatoes separately and add them to the finished dish.
As I was cooking for two, I substituted bone-in skin-on chicken thighs split in two for the whole 4-pound chicken cut into 16 pieces, used a half-pound of sausage rather than a full pound, and pretty much halved most of the remaining ingredients (except for the red-pepper flakes.) I also added a little more salt to the assembled dish before putting into the oven.
Chicken with Sausage & Peppers Spezzato di Pollo “Scappinello” (adapted from a recipe in The Tuci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci)
½ cup canola oil
4 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, cut in half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pound hot sausage, cut into ½ inch thick slices
1 medium size onion, cut into six wedges
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into eight pieces
5 cloves garlic, cut in half
2 yellow potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice (Better with Idaho.)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, cut in half
5-6 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
⅓ cup white wine
⅓ cup vinegared cherry peppers, with some of their brine
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat.
3. Pat the chicken pieces dry. Add the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer (cook the chicken in batches if necessary). Season with salt and pepper and brown well on one side, About 5 minutes.
4. Turn and brown lightly on the other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan that will hold all of the ingredients in a single layer.
5. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet. Add the sausage, onions, bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
6. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits, until the wine is reduced in half.
7. Transfer to the roasting pan.
8. Stir the potatoes, rosemary, sage, vinegared peppers with some brine, and red pepper flakes into the roasting pan. Transfer the roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt. Toss well and bake, stirring mid-way through, until the chicken is cooked through and potatoes are browned, about 35 minutes.
9. Remove from the oven and serve immediately on heated plates.
Wine Pairing: Pinot Grigio, Vermentino