10 May 2011

Mother's Day Dinner

Past Mother's Days when I couldn't be home to celebrate with my mom, I had a tradition of celebrating with two of my friends whose mothers have passed away. I don't know how it got started, but it was nice to spend some time cooking for people I loved on a day set aside to honor the women who have done so much for us. This past Mother's Day we re-started the tradition (minus one friend and adding another) and I finally made a recipe from one of my favorite TV cooks, Lidia Bastianich.

There are about a million recipes I want to try and narrowing it down seemed like an already-impossible task. Since whole fryers were on sale, I started there. With about 20 chicken recipes listed, it was tough to pick one, but finally settled on Pollo Scarpariello. The recipe calls for two small fryers--about 2.5 lbs. each. Well, the smallest fryer at New Seasons was four lbs, so I went with it and supplemented with six more drumsticks. On the side we had simple risotto and lemon and pine nut green beans.
Brown chicken skin side down first

After browning all the chicken and sausage, add the (10!) minced cloves of garlic

Add your pickled cherry peppers, vinegar and white wine and scrape up those beautiful browned bits!

Add all of your meats, pour that sauce over and stick in the oven for 10 minutes

Add 1/4 cup of fresh, chopped parsley to the sauce, then pour over the chicken and serve

Sides of lemon and pine nut green beans and simple risotto

I think Lidia would be proud

Pollo Scarpariello
by Lidia Bastianich
(serves 6 VERY hungry people)

2 small fryer chickens, (about 2 1/2 pounds each)
freshly ground pepper
¼ cup olive oil, or as needed
½ pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces*
10 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
4 pickled cherry peppers, cut in half and stemmed**
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup Italian parsley, freshly chopped

Cut each chicken into 12 pieces. Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry, then season them generously with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add as many pieces of chicken, skin side down and starting with the leg, thigh and wing pieces, to the skillet as fit without touching. Cook the chicken, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces as they brown and drain them briefly on paper towels. Place the drained chicken pieces in a roasting pan large enough to hold all of them in a single layer. Repeat 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 the chicken has been added, tuck in pieces of sausage and cook, turning until browned on all sides.

Remove all chicken and sausage from the pan, add the garlic and cook until golden, being careful not to burn it. Scatter the cherry peppers into the skillet, season with salt and pepper and stir for a minute. Pour in the vinegar and bring to boil, scraping the browned bits that stick to the skillet into the liquid 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.

*The store didn't have sweet Italian sausage in casing, so I got the bulk and rolled them up into little meatballs. They were quite tasty that way and got nice and brown.
**I found the pickled cherry peppers in the bulk antipasti section at the store with the cheese. Although the recipe only asks for four of them, I totally would have put more in if I had known how delicious they would be!

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