Chicken Scarpariello

A few weeks ago, a favorite site posted a recipe for a favorite dish that I would order at a great Italian-American restaurant in Marietta. I asked Marie to give it a try.

One of the places we went to not quite often enough when we lived in Marietta was Frankie’s Italian Restaurant. Each of us had a favorite go-to meal – for me, it was the pasta primavera, and for Grant it was the chicken scarpariello, or “Shoemaker’s Chicken.” He finally talked me into trying to make it, so here’s my version. Well, the version offered by Serious Eats last month, with my inevitable tweaks. It didn’t very closely resemble the appearance of what Grant used to order, but he seemed pleased and I was too. I’m definitely making this again.

First of all, although my recipe was made in a skillet, if you happen to have a dutch oven or oven-safe pot, that would work better. I had a fair amount of cleaning to do on my stove afterward due to the chicken spitting while it cooked. You really want to get some nice browned bits for the flavor, and that makes for a fairly active cooking process. You don’t want to put a lid on though because that steams the meat. A high side on the pot just works better.

I reduced the recipe a bit to account for half the amount of chicken, so here is the original recipe with my adjustments in parentheses:

About 2.5 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs, or about 8 (the bone helps for thickening, but more seriously, you can’t get boneless thighs with the skin still on – or at least I couldn’t; I used 4)
Salt and pepper
about 1 tbsp oil
3-4 links of sweet Italian sausage (I used mild Italian since the only sweet they had was ground, and as usual I didn’t feel like shopping multiple stores, but the meat department told me I could get away with using it if I put a spoonful of sugar and vinegar in. The trick seems to work; also, I used 5 links because we reeeeealy like sausage)
1 medium onion ( I used half)
1 large bell pepper (I used half each of a red and orange pepper)
2 tbsp fresh Sage (the recipe calls for fresh, but I didn’t like the looks of what was on offer and used about 1 tsp of dry sage instead)
6 cloves of garlic thinly sliced (I used only 5; if someone can find a way to keep my fingers from smelling like garlic for a week afterward, that would be lovely; I know the trick about crushing the clove in its skin with the back of a knife, which is what I’d normally do, but this calls specifically for thin slices so I did it that way)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup vinegar, using the cherry pepper vinegar if available
about 8 cherry peppers (note that the recipe at Serious Eats includes Amazon links to mail order these. Don’t. The very same brand was a quarter the price at our local grocery store. Sorry Amazon, we love you, but in this area you’re lacking).
2 tbsp sugar (originally called for in the recipe, not just part of the sausage cheat!)

1) preheat oven to 350. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. My son insisted on helping and this was about the only thing safe for him to do, so our peppering was *exceedingly* generous; luckily, the recipe is serious about pepper and it didn’t hurt at all. Apparently one is supposed to lay on the pepper like a five year-old. Heat the oil over medium-high until the oil is shimmering, then add the chicken skin side down. Cook without moving until crisp, then turn and cook lightly on the other side, about 8 minutes total (5 and 3 should do it). Turn down heat if the oil smokes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Make sure when you return the chicken that you also return the juices that drain onto the plate.

2) Return skillet to heat and add sausages. Brown them on each side, about 1 1/2 minutes each. Remove pan from heat, remove sausages, and cut in 3-4 pieces each and set aside. They will still be raw in the middle – don’t worry.

3) Return pan to heat, add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, until softened and beginning to brown. Add sage and garlic (I put in a bit of the stock with the sage since it was dry) and cook until fragrant.

4) add pickled cherry peppers and their liquid. Start scraping up browned bits. Deglaze with stock and white wine. Return chicken and sausage to pan, skin side up.

5) transfer to oven and cook about 30 minutes. Serve immediately, preferably with garlic bread.

Let me know if you try it, and what changes if any you made!

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