My family is smack in the middle of that six-week period of winter when germs move back and forth among us. Two weeks ago, my husband Kurt wasn’t feeling well. This week Ken has been complaining of headaches and stomach aches. I’m fighting some kind of cold; it better not be the flu since I actually got the vaccine this fall. Impaired taste means that nothing really tastes right, so folks are left full, but not satisfied.
So tonight I decided to perk up our meal by making a hot and vinegary chicken dish, chicken scarpiello. Italians who immigrated to America created this dish; it is unknown in Italy. “Scarpiello” means “shoemaker” in Italian; no one is sure exactly how the dish got its name. Some say it’s derived from the idea that the dish is “cobbled” together from ingredients that immigrant Italians could afford; others say it’s the method of cooking– you don’t really have to do much than throw it in a pan, e.g., even a shoemaker could make it.
The dish has both chicken and Italian sausage, but the key ingredient to its unique flavor is pickled hot cherry peppers AND some of the pickling juice. It’s a lively chicken dish that wakes up your senses; the sauce is fantastic! Serve it simply with orzo spiked with Parmesan or a crusty loaf of bread. (The boys opted for bread).
This was the first time I made this dish; I was instantly intrigued by the flavor profile when I watched Anne Burrell make it on her show. Consequently, I used her version of this recipe which you can find here; I like her recipes and techniques because they coax out maximum flavor from very basic ingredients.
Here’s how I did it:
First, my stuff– chicken, sausage, onion, garlic, peppers, pepper juice, chicken stock, oregano– not many ingredients!
Brown the sausage in a little olive oil over medium heat:
Remove the sausage to a bowl, then add the chicken pieces. I used one cut up chicken. Brown the pieces, on both sides.
Remove the chicken to the same bowl as the sausage. Pour out the chicken fat and oil, then add some new olive oil. Add the onions and cook til translucent.
When translucent, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.Add the white wine, stirring constant to scrape up all that delicious fond at the bottom of the pan.
Simmer til wine has reduced by half. The liquid will thicken almost to a syrup consistency.
Arrange the chicken pieces, sausage into the pan, then add the pepper juice, chicken stock, quartered red peppers and oregano (which I did not chop).
Bring everything to a boil, then partially cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done.Uncover the pan and let the juices simmer another 5 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. Taste for seasonings; the sauce should be light (like soup), and spicy.
I served my dish with a crusty baguette.
Even the stuffiest head cold can’t block the flavor in this dish! Kurt said it is his new favorite Italian chicken stew– “better than my cacciatore!” And he makes the ultimate chicken cacciatore, too…