As the Family and I Slowly Sink Under the Weather, a Little Va-Va-Voom Meal to Bring Us Back to Life

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!

Just a few basic ingredients...

Just a few basic ingredients…

Brown the sausage in a little olive oil over medium heat:

You're browning, not cooking all the way through!

You’re browning, not cooking all the way through!

Remove the sausage to a bowl, then add the chicken pieces.  I used one cut up chicken.  Brown the pieces, on both sides.

Of course, I remember AFTER I brown the chicken that I have a spatter shield!

Of course, I remember AFTER I brown the chicken that I have a spatter shield!

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.

It will take several minutes to cook the onions on medium heat

It will take several minutes to cook the onions on medium heat

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.

Make sure you scrape up all those delicious bits on the bottom!

Make sure you scrape up all those delicious bits on the bottom!

Simmer til wine has reduced by half.  The liquid will thicken almost to a syrup consistency.

Your flavor foundation!

Your flavor foundation!

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).

Kurt walked by the stove and said "This is going to be good!"

Kurt walked by the stove and said “This is going to be good!”

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.

Ready to serve

Ready to serve

I served my dish with a crusty baguette.

Got bread?

Got bread?

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…

All I can say is...have a LOT of bread for soaking up that sauce!

All I can say is…have a LOT of bread for soaking up that sauce!

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2 Comments

Filed under Family, Food, Main Dishes

2 responses to “As the Family and I Slowly Sink Under the Weather, a Little Va-Va-Voom Meal to Bring Us Back to Life

  1. Grace

    Absolutely delicious. The sauce is addictive. Made with chicken thighs because we like dark meat and served with buttered farro. Also topped with cilantro which gave it a yummy freshness…a definite repeat recipe…..

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