Garlicky Chicken Thighs with Scallion and Lime

Garlicky Chicken

Our markets in downtown San Diego frequently seem to have extraordinary sales on chicken; for example, today I found bone-in skin-on chicken thighs for 77 cents a pound. Consequently, my plans for a pasta dinner were put on hold and replaced with a dish that caught my eye on the New York Times “Cooking” site: Garlicky Chicken Thighs with Scallion and Lime.

It’s a relatively simple dish to prepare and requires a minimum of ingredients. My only substitution was 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the 1 tablespoon of canola oil. And while the recipe gave the choice of using “a large Dutch oven or a high-sided skillet” for cooking the dish, I opted for my trusty 12″ cast-iron skillet. Sure, it made a mess of my stove, but I think the skillet was a better choice as it allowed for a better reduction of the sauce.

I was also tempted to substitute white wine for the water, but went with the latter to let the flavors of the garlic and scallions to stand on their own. And although the recipe calls for discarding the halved garlic head at the end, I served it with the chicken because it was packed with sweet roasted flavor. Finally, to absorb the sauce, I served steamed Basmati rice.

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil (I substituted 2 tablespoons of olive oil.)
1 bunch scallions
1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved crosswise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

Preparation

1. – Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.

Seasoned Chicken

2. – Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. (I think the skillet is the better choice.)
3. – Add chicken, skin-side down and cook, undisturbed, until chicken is crisped and the fat has begun to render, 8 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip chicken skin-side up. Cook until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

Browned Chicken

4. – Meanwhile, thinly slice two scallions; set aside.

Prepped Garlic and Scallions

5. – Add both halves of the head of garlic, cut side down, and remaining whole scallions to the pot and season with salt and pepper, tossing to coat in the chicken fat.

Adding Garlic and Scallions

6. – Cook until scallions are lightly blistered and browned, about 3 minutes. Add grated garlic and stir a minute or two, but do not brown.

Blistered Scallions

6. – Add lime juice, soy sauce and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and partly cover. Cook until chicken is completely tender and nearly falling apart on the underside and liquid is reduced by three-quarters, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the halved head of garlic. (I think this step might be tricky for some. Be sure to partially cover the skillet to keep the chicken from drying out; but also allow enough time for the sauce to reduce properly.)

After cooking

7. – Scatter sliced scallion over chicken and using a Microplane or zester, zest lime over. Cut lime into quarters and serve alongside.

Ready to Serve

Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Wedding Anniversary Dinner

Anniversary Dinner

What does it say about your marriage when you opt for celebrating at home over dining out? After four years together, I think it says we don’t need anymore than we already have to be happy and that most of all we treasure our time together alone.

Our menu was simple. After Champagne with smoked salmon on pumpernickel (OK, maybe a bit of a spurge), we sat down to one of our go-to meals: roast chicken, stuffed with lemon and herbs accompanied by roasted potatoes with rosemary, a mushroom gratin, and roasted cherry tomatoes.

The recipe for the chicken comes from Mark Bittman’s tome, How to Cook Everything. Here’s a link to the basic recipe and some variations:
http://www.howtocookeverything.com/recipes/simplest-whole-roast-chicken-six-ways

Roast Chicken

As you can see, I opted to add some herbs and lemon wedges.

The sides were family classics, all of which went into the oven along with the chicken at different intervals. The potatoes went in at the start and the tomatoes and mushrooms about 15 minutes later.

Roasted Potatoes

The potatoes are cubed, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary. About midway through, turn the potatoes.

Mushroom Gratin

For the mushrooms, I combine dry bread crumbs with minced garlic, finely chopped Italian parsley, grated Romano cheese, sat and pepper and moisten the mixture with some olive oil. I the sprinkle the crumbs over sliced button mushrooms and roast for about 35 minutes.

Roasted Tomatoes

For the tomatoes, I take a pint of grape tomatoes, several cloves of peeled and smashed garlic and a generous pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the tomatoes to make sure they’re coated with the oil and roast for about 30 minutes.

Our wine choice was a simple Chianti Classico.

In my youth, I would have probably gone for a far more elaborate meal to celebrate an anniversary, but now nearing seventy, I’ve begun to take a more relaxed approach to cooking and dining but nonetheless still insist on warmed plates, polished flatware, and most important candle light.

Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs

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Almost every week I roast bone-in skin-on chicken thighs on a sheet pan the same way, with a mix of fresh thyme and rosemary, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. It’s a staple of my comfort-food repertoire. But yesterday, I opted out of my comfort zone and went for a spicier dish: Mark Bittman’s Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs posted on the New York Times Cooking website. Having all the ingredients for the spice rub in my pantry, except for a small jalapeño, also contributed to my choosing this dish.

After reading some of the reader comments on the site, I made a few changes to the recipe. I halved the amount of lemon juice and upped the amount of tomato paste, cumin, and coriander. Unfortunately, I did not increase the amount of salt. I also let the thighs marinate in the fridge for almost 3 hours and then lightly drizzled them with olive oil before putting them into the oven.

The result was delicious, but benefited from some additional salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice at the table.

This is a recipe you can play with (as I plan to do in the future).

A camera malfunction (really user error) resulted in my not having any prep photos, but with such an easy recipe I don’t their absence matters.

Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs (adapted from Mark Bittman on the New York Times Cooking website.)

8 chicken thighs, with skin, pierced all over with a small knife and trimmed of any excess skin and fat.
5 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded
Zest of 1 whole lemon and juice of half
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1.5 teaspoons cumin powder
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put trimmed chicken thighs in a bowl. Finely mince garlic, ginger and pepper. Toss with all remaining ingredients or put in a small food processor, and grind to a paste. (It is O.K. if the coriander seeds are not fully pulverized. They will add a little crunch.) (I recommend the small food-processor option.)

2. Rub mixture thoroughly into chicken. At this point, you can cover, and refrigerate for up to a day.

3. Put thighs, skin side up, in a roasting pan (I prefer a rimmed sheet pan). Roast for 35 to 45 minutes or until done.

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Yield: 4 servings.

Wine Pairing: Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

Chicken Paprikash

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A few weeks ago, I was reminiscing with some friends about our days as graduate students at Columbia in the early 70s.   After talking about friends, teachers, and seminars, it didn’t take us long before we started to recall some of our  favorite bars and restaurants near campus: the West End for drinks and burgers, The Symposium for Greek food, V & T’s for Italian and pizza, and The Green Tree for Hungarian.

The last of these was perhaps my favorite, for it served large portions at reasonable prices. At The Green Tree, I always ordered the same thing: chicken paprikash, which was served with a generous side of small Hungarian dumplings called nokedli. This was pure comfort food, especially during the winter.

Since our get-together, I’ve had a hankering for chicken paprikash and have made it a couple of times following recipes I’ve found on the Internet. (My copy of George Lang’s The Cuisine of Hungary having been lost to a flood after hurricane Sandy.)

My most recent attempt at this dish combined several recipes and came close to recreating the dish I enjoyed more than 40 years ago.

Chicken Paprikash

Ingredients

Ingredients
Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 bone-in, skin-on (preferably Kosher) dark-meat chicken quarters (about 3 pounds)
Salt
Freshly ground back pepper
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 green cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 heaping tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 large beefsteak tomato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
Thick egg noodles

Directions

Trim any excess skin and fat from the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.

In an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat the oil and the butter.

When hot, add the chicken skin-side down and cook each side until nicely browned, about 6 minutes a side.

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Remove the chicken from the pot and remove some of the excess fat from the pan.

Add onions scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and over medium heat cook the onions covered for 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure that the onions do not brown.

Then add the chopped pepper, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring once to avoid browning. Finally add the garlic and cook covered for another 2 minutes, again making sure not to brown the vegetables.

Adding garlic to onions and peppers
Adding garlic to onions and peppers

Add the paprika and the flour and cook stirring for 1 minute until the spice becomes fragrant.

Toasting the paprika
Toasting the paprika

Add the broth, whisking until smooth, and then add the chopped tomato. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Adding the tomatoes
Adding the tomatoes

Return the chicken skin side up in a single layer, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot and reduce the heat to medium.

Cover and cook until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

The cooked chicken
The cooked chicken

Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles following package directions.

Remove the chicken from the pan and, if necessary, cook the sauce over medium high heat to reduce liquid and thicken the sauce. About 3 minutes.

Off the heat, stir the sour cream into the sauce.

Adding the sour cream
Adding the sour cream
The finished suave
The finished sauce

On plates, arrange the noodles and chicken and generously ladle the sauce over them.

Some of the recipes I consulted were Martha Stewart’s Chicken Paprikash, Rachael Ray’s Hungarian Paprikash, and one from We The Eaters. Ray’s use of brined chicken led me to select Kosher chicken for this dish and several Internet recipes, like the one form the We the Eaters website, influenced by use of the cubanelle pepper.

Wine Pairing: Merlot

Chicken Cacciatore, Yet Again

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One of the cookbooks I remember from my youth was chef-restaurateur Romeo Salta’s The Pleasures of Italian Cooking, which was published in the early ‘60s. In its time, Salta’s New York City tony restaurant was a haven for celebrities and was well reviewed by the likes of Mimi Sheraton and Gael Greene. In fact, Sheraton is quoted in Salta’s NY Times obituary as saying: “New York has never had an Italian restaurant as good as Romeo Salta was in its heyday.”

The only recipe I vaguely recall from Salta’s book was one for a chicken cacciatore that, compared to my Neapolitan aunt’s, was far more involved and more heavily sauced.

About ten years ago, I came across another recipe for this classic dish in Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Italianthat evoked a recollection of Salta’s. Since that time, I’ve cooked it often, tweaking it and, in so doing, have probably made the dish less authentic and more Italian-American. Nevertheless, it’s one of my favorites and so I decided to share it here with my readers, even though I’ve already posted at least two others for this dish.

I’ve included a link here to the original  De Laurentiis recipe.

Ingredients

Ingredients--missing tomatoes
Ingredients–missing tomatoes

8-9 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (approximately 3 pounds) well trimmed of excess fat and skin
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1.5- to 2-inch chunks
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano whole tomatoes with juice, crushed
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 to 4 tablespoons non-pareil capers, rinsed and drained
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1.5 cups frozen peas, thawed
1.5 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
¼ cup coarsely torn fresh basil

Directions

1. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper.
2. Dredge the chicken thighs in the flour to coat lightly, shaking off any excess.

Floured chicken
Floured chicken

3. In a large heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

4. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. You may also want to remove any excess fat from the pan.
5. Add the bell peppers and onion to the same pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant about 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.

Sautéed Peppers, Onions, and Garlic
Sautéed peppers, onions, and garlic

7. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
8. Add the broth and simmer for another 2 minutes.

After wine and broth reduction
After wine and broth reduction

9. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, along with any juices that may have accumulated in the dish, and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Chicken returned to the pan
Chicken returned to the pan

10. Continue simmering uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
11. Add the peas and the mushrooms.

Adding peas and mushrooms
Adding peas and mushrooms

12. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Finished cooking
Finished cooking

13. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Wine Pairing: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Sauvignon Blanc

Chicken Scarpariello

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A request from my better half for chicken scarpariello, which by the way I had never had, led me to search my cookbooks for a recipe. None of them, however, contained one that met his expectations. Consequently, I expanded my (now our) search to the Internet, where we finally found a recipe by Anne Burrell on the Food Network website that came close to meeting all the requirements.

This Italian-American dish appears to have originated in New York City. Its name, scarpariello, or shoemaker style, has been attributed to its being “cobbled” together from several ingredients that play a key role in it: chicken, sausage, and cherry peppers.

Although a good number of versions call for cutting up the chicken into small pieces to better absorb the sauce, I chose to use whole thighs, which allow for a slightly longer cooking time to reduce the sauce without drying out the chicken. For the same reason, I also cut my sausages and peppers slightly larger than called for by the original recipe. Finally, rather than using hot cherry peppers, I opted for peppers that were labeled “hot & sweet” in order to reduce the heat and keep older digestive systems happy.

Chicken Scarpariello (Adapted from Anne Burrell on the Food Network Website)

Ingredients

Ingredients
Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fennel sausage, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
3-pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup hot and sweet cherry peppers halved or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup pepper juice, from the jar
1 cup chicken stock, plus a little more if needed
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Coat a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown well.

Browning sausage
Browning sausage

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Trim any excess skin and fat from the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper and add to the pan that the sausage was browned in. Brown the chicken well.

Browning chicken
Browning chicken

Once the chicken is brown on all sides, remove it from the pan and reserve.

Drain the oil from the pan and return it to the heat. Coat the pan lightly with new olive oil, add the onions, and season with salt. Cook the onions over medium heat until they are translucent and very aromatic, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Browning onions and garlic
Browning onions

Add the wine to the pan and reduce it by half. While the wine is reducing, scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

Reducing the wine and deglazing
Reducing the wine and deglazing

Return the sausage and chicken, along with any accumulated juices, to the pan and add the cherry peppers, cherry-pepper juice, chicken stock, and oregano.

The chicken and sausage
The chicken and sausage
Adding the peppers, pepper juice, stock and oregano
Adding the peppers, pepper juice, stock and oregano

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer, partially covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes; add more chicken stock if the sauce has reduced too much.

The finished dish
The finished dish

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. The finished dish should be slightly soupy, spicy, and delicious.

Wine Pairing: Chardonnay, Riesling

Chicken Roman Style

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Yesterday, I was inspired by a post on Diane Darrow’s insightful blog Another Year in Recipes to cook one of my favorite Roman dishes, pollo alla Romana. Darrow’s post focused on a contemporary recipe for the dish that she compared with her own, which she had published years ago in The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen. The newer recipe seemed far more involved than Darrow’s, which in my opinion more closely resembled the ones I’ve enjoyed in Roman trattorie.

I wrote to Darrow about the recipe I’ve always used for this dish from David Downie’s Cooking the Roman Way, which uses pancetta and roasted peppers. She responded, and I agree, that this recipe may reflect a trend in Italian cooking where people have more interest in experimenting and elaborating on simple traditional dishes.

Below is my adaptation of Downie’s recipe, which I must say yields an extraordinary chicken dish with many layers of flavor. I served the chicken with some grilled polenta, but crusty Italian bread would work just as well.

Pollo coi Peperoni alla Romana (Adapted from Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie.)

Ingredients
Ingredients

Ingredients
3 to 4 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, about 9 thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian crushed tomatoes
4 to 5 large red peppers, roasted, skinned, and seeded and then sliced into strips 1/2 to 1 inch wide and 1-1/2 to 2 inches long.
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat or skin and pat dry. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta. Sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the onion becomes translucent and the pancetta barely starts to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Sautéing onions and pancetta
Sautéing onions and pancetta

3. With a slotted spoon, remove the onions and pancetta from the pan to a bowl and cover with a lid.

Cooked onions and pancetta
Cooked onions and pancetta

4. Add the pepper flakes to the pan and stir briefly. Increase the heat to high, add the chicken parts skin side down and brown them thoroughly, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes. If the chicken is very fatty pour off some of the fat.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

5. Return the sautéed onions and pancetta to the pan and stir thoroughly.

6. Pour in the wine and boil to evaporate it, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Reducing the wine
Reducing the wine

7. Add the crushed tomatoes, the roasted peppers, and the oregano. Bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, partially covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

The finished dish
The finished dish

8. Serve immediately on warmed plates accompanied by polenta or crusty Italian bread.

Wine Pairing: Sangiovese di Romagna, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Merlot

Pressure-Cooker Chicken Curry

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Long, long ago when I was in graduate school and living in my first apartment, I started to have dinner parties. My guests were fellow students all of whom shared a love of food that was only constrained by our limited budgets. Each of us had a specialty: mine, of course, was Italian food, inspired by my family’s menus. Others ventured into French or vegetarian or Indian.

Granted, the authenticity of some of our dishes might not have met the more stringent standards of today’s foodies, but nevertheless they were quite tasty. Among the most delicious of these was my friend Leslie’s chicken curry that was always served with rice and Major Grey’s chutney along with a bottle of the then ubiquitous and affordable Schwarze Katz wine, a semi-dry Riesling blend.

The dish I’m writing about today brought back these memories of meals shared with fellow scholars on a budget. Given the ingredients and method of cooking, however, I fear that my kitchen credibility may be called into question by some of my readers.  But this chicken curry has become one of my quick-meal, easy clean-up, comfort-food staples perfect for a mid-week late night dinner. My recipe is roughly based on Lorna Sass’s “Curry in a Hurry” in her book Pressure Perfect.

Pressure-Cooker Chicken Curry

Ingredients
Ingredients


3 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, well trimmed of excess skin and fat
Madras curry powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 12.5-ounce jar Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Indian Simmer Sauce

1. Sprinkle the underside of the trimmed chicken thighs with the curry powder and salt to taste.

Seasoned chicken
Seasoned chicken

2. Place the chopped onion in a pressure cooker followed by the chicken thighs. I make two layers of chicken, starting with skin-side down for the bottom layer and then going to skin-side up for the top layer. 

3. Pour in a jar of the simmer sauce making sure to evenly distribute it over the chicken.

4. Lock the lid and and bring the cooker to high pressure, following the instructions of your cooker’s manufacturer. More often than not I use my electric pressure cooker, which facilitates bringing the pot to pressure. For stove-top cookers, Sass’s recipe recommends bringing the cooker to high pressure over high heat and then reducing the heat just enough to maintain high pressure.

5. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally for 4 minutes followed by quick release if necessary. Be careful of the steam, when removing the lid of your pressure cooker. If the chicken is not tender, simmer covered until done. If there is too much fat, you may wish to skim it from the top before serving.

Serve with steamed rice and chutney on the side.

Wine Pairing: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

Pollo all’Arrabbiata

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I love steak. Until recently, I could eat it five times a week—pan roasted, basted with butter, cooked medium rare, served with a drizzle of olive oil. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Unfortunately, given my age and my doctor’s recommendations, my steak indulgence is now limited to once a week. I’m now dining more healthfully, albeit less rapturously, with at least one vegetarian and one fish meal a week, and eating more chicken than I want to admit.

One chicken recipe that’s become a weeknight favorite is Pollo all’arrabbiata from Louie Werle’s book on Italy’s cucina povera, Italian Country Cooking. As the recipe’s name implies, the chicken is cooked in a tomato sauce with hot chili peppers. Starting with a soffrito of garlic, fatty pancetta, and fresh rosemary makes this dish even more flavorful.

As was recommended in the recipe, I served the dish with polenta. Given my time constraints on a weekday night, however, I opted for an “instant” polenta, which I prepared with chicken broth, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano.

I’ve always  followed the recipe closely, but the next time I prepare it, I’ll probably cut the tomatoes into halves to extract more of their flavor.

Ingredients
Ingredients

Pollo all’arrabbiata
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
4 whole chicken legs (thighs and legs), about 3 pounds
1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry red wine
2 hot red chilies, chopped (I substituted dried Calabrian chilies, crushed.)
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Soffrito
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 ounces fatty pancetta, cut into cubes (I used slightly more than 2 ounces.)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

To make the soffrito, combine the garlic, pancetta, and rosemary in a small food processor and pulse until fairly finely chopped.

The soffrito
The soffrito

Transfer the mixture to a heavy-based pot, add the oil and cook over moderate heat until the pancetta is golden, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

The browned soffrito
The browned soffrito

Turn the heat up to high, add the onion, chicken, and garlic cloves and brown the chicken well on both sides, about 8 minutes.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

Stir in the wine and cook 1 minute. (I used this time to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.)

Adding the wine
Adding the wine

Then add chili and tomatoes, and season with salt.

The tomatoes and chilies
The tomatoes and chilies

Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook gently for 40 minutes. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted between the thigh and leg. Check seasoning. Serve on deep, heated plates with polenta.

The finished dish
The finished dish

Serves 4. (Like most braised dishes, this chicken is even better when re-heated a day or tow later.)

Wine Pairing: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange

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My Neapolitan aunt, an outstanding home cook, was never one for fancy food; her dishes were simple and straightforward, her presentations were always family style, and her only garnish, if any, was some chopped parsley.

While America was rediscovering French cuisine in the 60s, she and I would watch the original Julia Child shows. However, if Julia would demonstrate something elaborate like roasting a pig or cooking swordfish “in monk’s clothing,” my aunt would look askance at the television, mumble something like “che stravagante,” and leave the room.

Well, last night I think my aunt might have had a similar reaction if she were to have been watching me prepare Mark Bittman’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange from The New York Times. It’s not a complicated recipe, but requires repeated braising and rotating the pan every ten minutes to achieve a mahogany-colored bird.

The result was good, with crisp skin and moist meat, but I know if my aunt were still around and watched the preparation, she would have remarked as I did: “non vale la pena” (not worth the effort).

Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange from The New York Times
INGREDIENTS
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3-pound chicken, giblets and excess fat removed

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a nonstick roasting pan, or line a roasting pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.

Combine orange juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl, and whisk until smooth. Place chicken in pan, and spoon all but 1/4 cup of liquid over all of it.

Place chicken in oven, legs first, and roast for 10 minutes. Spoon accumulated juices back over chicken, reverse pan back to front, and return to oven. Repeat four times, basting every 10 minutes and switching pan position each time. If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat a bit. If juices dry up, use reserved liquid and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice.

After 50 minutes of roasting, insert an instant-read thermometer into a thigh; when it reads 155 to 165 degrees, remove chicken from oven, and baste one final time. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Wine Pairing: Chardonnay