What’s Cooking

Rachel Roddy contributes from A Kitchen in Rome to The Guardian Lifestyles section regularly. Often the recipes reflect the size and equipment of her typical Italian apartment kitchen: limited storage space, a half-size refrigerator, a small oven and four elements on a stove top. They also reflect the seasonality and availability of fresh produce and the proximity of a butcher. This recipe was the result of chicken thighs she found at the butcher’s downstairs from her apartment.

It’s one pan, it’s tasty and all the ingredients should be readily available.

Baked Chicken and Potatoes with Lemon and Rosemary
From Rachel Roddy at A Kitchen in Rome
Serves: 4 as a main course or 8 at a buffet
Prep Time: 50 minutes (including 45 minutes marinating)
Cooking Time: 55 minutes

1.2 kgs chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
5 potatoes peeled and quartered
1 large lemon or two small ones
150 ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tsp oregano
salt to taste
Splash of white wine

Put the chicken and potatoes in a large bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and add the olive oil, garlic, the needles from one sprig of rosemary and other whole sprig, salt and oregano, and toss really well. Cut the empty lemon skins into wedges, add to the bowl, toss again and leave to sit for 45 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 425ºF
Put the potatoes and chicken skin side down in a *baking tray that accommodates them in more or less a single layer, making sure to scrape in all the marinade, then roast for 45 minutes, turning the chicken midway, so it is now skin side up. Lift the chicken on to a platter, return potatoes and lemon bits to the oven, and turn it up for about 10 minutes, so the potatoes turn golden.
Transfer the potatoes and lemon to the chicken platter, put the tray on a medium flame and add a little white wine to the juices. Scrape the bottom of the tray with a wooden spoon to dislodge any bits, let the juices bubble away for a minute or so, then pour over the chicken and potatoes and serve.

*A heavy duty baking tray with high sides always works best with these one-pan recipes. I recently bought a Nordicware half tray and it works beautifully with this, and other, recipes

The word for January 22nd is:
Thigh thī: [noun]
1.1 The portion of the human leg between the hip and the knee.
1.2 The corresponding part of the hind leg of a quadruped or other vertebrate animal.
1.3 The second segment of a bird’s leg, containing the tibia and fibula.
Old English þeoh, þeh, from Proto-Germanic *theuham literally “the thick or fat part of the leg.”

Il cibo della nonna*

Italian Comfort Food

In our household the first question asked as coffee is poured in the morning is normally, “What do you want for dinner tonight?” As I wrote this I realized it sounded a bit like the lady of the manor consulting with the cook for that day’s menu, I’ll leave it to you to decided who is playing which role in that little playlet.

And it seems that lately “what’s to eat?” is becoming the burning question of the day. And looking at the five or six food sites that I visit on YouTube the trend seems to be going to good old fashioned comfort foods. Recipes that we grew up with and are familiar in an ever stranger world.

The various digital editions of media that still have food features have been creating lists of recipes to get you through the week. Rachel Roddy lives in Rome and writes for The Guardian. On occasion I have used her recipes but this week in her Italian Recipes for the Lockdown she has some real classics which she tells us are made from ingredients found in your pantry or larder. Well maybe a Roman pantry or larder! Though sure enough we did have all the ingredients for her version of Pollo alla cacciatora except the small chilli pepper but she gave a perfectly good substitute of a pinch or two of dried chilli.

Photo from Un dentista ai fornelli

Where, you might ask, are the tomatoes, mushrooms, onions or red pepper? Well this recipe is Alla Romano and there isn’t a tomato in sight. It depends on very few things – quality chicken, good olive oil, premium black olives, garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary and red wine vinegar. And it is the ultimate cibo della nonna*.

Pollo alla cacciatora (Hunter’s chicken)

Serves 4
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 kg chicken (a small one, jointed, or a mixture of legs and thighs)
2 garlic cloves
1 small chilli pepper, or good pinch of dried chilli
A sprig of fresh rosemary
Salt and black pepper
250ml white wine, plus extra if needed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
A handful of pitted black olives

1 Cut the chicken into about 12 pieces (I ask my butcher to do this). In a deep sauté pan with a lid, large enough to fit the meat in a snug, single layer, warm the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the meat pieces, skin-side down and cook until the skin forms a golden crust, then turn them over and do the same on the other side. This will take about 15 minutes.

2 While the meat is browning, chop the garlic, chilli and needles from the rosemary sprig very finely. Once the meat has browned, sprinkle with the chopped garlic, chilli and rosemary, season with salt and pepper, pour over the white wine, cover the pan and turn the heat down to low.

3 Cook the meat, turning from time to time, until the thighs feel very tender when prodded with a fork, and the meat is surrounded by thick gravy – 45–75 minutes depending on the chicken. If the pan seems a little dry, add a little more wine.

4 In the last minutes of cooking add the vinegar and the olives, stir, and cook for a minute more, before dividing between warm plates.

Recipe from Rachel Roddy – A Kitchen in Rome
The Guardian – March 30, 2020

Photo from: Un dentista ai fornelli
  • I’m not sure what 12 pieces her butcher cuts the chicken up into but all I could get out of mine was two legs, two thighs, two wings, two breasts cut in half crosswise. That makes ten pieces by my count; if anyone has any idea where the other two came from let me know.
  • Of course you can use a combination of thighs, legs, breasts from the supermarket if you aren’t as lucky as Ms Reddy to have an accomodating butcher.
  • It may seem like an awful lot of olive oil but it turns into a tasty sauce when combined with the white wine, chicken fat, chilli, garlic and rosemary.
  • Make sure the chicken is dry so the skin will turn golden and not stick to the pan.
  • That addition of red wine vinegar at the end sounds a bit strange but it gives a bit of punch to the sauce, don’t omit it.
  • The reheated leftovers the next day suggested it could be made ahead and served at a company – when we finally can have company – dinner. I’d reheat the sauce gently and then warm the chicken pieces in it.

* Grandma’s home cooking. The ultimate Italian comfort food!

The word for April 5th is:
Comfort Food /ˈkəmfərt fo͞od/: [compound noun]
Nourishment that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, often associated with childhood or home cooking.
The term has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood, like mother’s poached egg or famous chicken soup.”
Well we pretty much got severe emotional stress happening on a big scale so …. time for some “comfort food”.

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