Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chicken Cooked with Vinegar

We were back up in Portland again a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our usual belated Christmas with my sister's family so of course we had to spend at least one afternoon at Powell's Book Store. I spent an hour rifling through the multitude of used Italian cooking books and found some real keepers at a great bargain. Since we're taking our first trip to Rome this coming spring I thought it'd be a good idea to specialize on trying some Roman cuisine beforehand to get some idea of what could be in store for us there. I've already been through Patricia Wells' fantastic book Trattoria which has a fair amount of Roman dishes represented but found Julia Della Croce's book Roma - Authentic Recipes From In And Around The Eternal City on the shelves for a good price. Browsing the various recipes it definitely looked like something I could have a lot of fun with. 
This recipe and the following one, Peas with Proscuitto, were the first ones I've tried and together made for a fantastic weeknight dinner. Note that I tweaked them a bit so these may not be completely faithful to the versions in the book.

As the recipe specifically suggests cutting a chicken into smaller pieces this was a great opportunity to put my new boning knife to the test - I don't know how I went so long without having such a helpful tool!

Seared chicken parts

Softening the onion

Adding the spices

whole chicken, cut into small parts*
chicken giblets, cleaned **
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoons fresh grated nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
healthy pinch of kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup water

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Once it is hot, add the chicken parts in batches to brown well, about 5 minutes a side. As each batch is cooked, set it aside on a plate.
Add the minced giblets to the pan to color well then set aside with the chicken parts.
To the hot pan with the oil left in, add the chopped garlic and onions. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté the vegetables until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the skillet. 
Mix the spices together in a small bowl then add to the pan with the vegetables and stir to completely combine everything. Add in the chicken parts and cooked giblets, combine everything, then add the cup of water. 
Bring it all to a light simmer then cover partially, allowing to cook the chicken through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter to rest a bit, bring the heat back up to medium in order to reduce the liquid some, then pour it over the chicken.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, oil as you like then serve.

* - Separate the chicken into its parts - legs, thighs, wings, breasts - then cut each part again into half
** - Remove the membrane from the liver, heart, and lungs - I find using a paper towel to rub them off to be the best method

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