Monday: Mujaddaru (Rice and Lentils with Crispy Onions) / Basil and Tomatoes
Tuesday: Pasta with Sausage and Cream Sauce (CI, 54) / Green Salad
Wednesday: Chicken Canzanese / Boiled Potatoes / Green Salad
Thursday: Dunnings Gathering at the Cornerstone
Friday: Roasted Peppers and Sausage, Braised Halibut with Leeks& Mustard
Saturday: Pizzas: Margherita, and Sautéed Shallots with Gruyere and Tomme
Sunday: Honey-Roasted Baby Back Ribs / Rice with Castelveltranto Olives
Strictly speaking, the headline of this post is only half correct. Chicken Canzanese was a revelation to us, although a popular restaurant meal in the 70s, according to Cook’s Illustrated.* And sticky rice has been with us (persisting like a burr in the coat of a long-haired dog) for as long as anyone can remember. But Beez and I had never had the chicken dish and I, having had the rice before, decided to juice it up a bit with an ingredient that made perfect sense to me (though Beez in SWMBO-mode voiced some misgiving) – bits of savory and just a bit tart olives.
The result was not quite culinary history – but what passes for culinary history at Casa Stuarti, two “keepers”, i.e., dishes we will cook again. Truth be told, the rice, lentils and crispy onions from Monday – a rare foray into North African cuisine, the pasta with sausage and cream sauce, the halibut and the ribs were also keepers, and the roasted peppers and sausage was a great use of leftovers – but hey, I can only write up so many recipes in one week, what with business, daydreaming, buying gifts, Mass, staring into space, jumbled words, cryptic puzzles and the many obligations and avocations that crowd my days. Considering which, you should be thankful for what I’ve writing up, at absolutely no cost to you. So, quit your griping, read on and cook this chicken – not only for the specific recipe but for the technique which is golden. And call me if you have a sudden hankering for any of the other dishes (especially the ribs – a little forethought and a 24 hour marinade makes the dish – and don’t forget to pass around plenty of napkins).
*”In 1969, The New York Times printed a recipe for chicken Canzanese, a venerable braised chicken dish from the Abruzzo region of Italy. . . this dish became a wildly popular and satisfyingly simple go-to for restaurants and home cooks alike. “ p. 28 Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Winter Recipes
The Chicken Canzanese (recipe below) involves a splendid technique for braising which gives you moist chicken with edible, crispy skin (in my opinion, we’re talking on-beyond-edible here, we’re talking hard-not-to-ed). The technique itself is a keeper and can be used with other meats that benefit from a hard sear and slow cooking.
And the ‘extra’ recipe for Chinese Sticky Rice is fine without or without the olives if you just need a side or a starch. But if you want a dish that can stand on its own, add the olives. And by the way, if needing a starch or a side is how you think about cooking you need to read old postings on this blog and wise up.
CHICKEN CANZANESE (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Winter Recipes)
Take the time to get a good, dark brown sear on the chicken skin – it makes all the difference in this dish. The other key is to stir – really stir and continuously – the flour and then the wine and the stock into the flour. Otherwise, the dish pretty much cooks itself.
About 2 hours (maybe somewhat less), if you have all ingredients line up and ready to go. Active cooking time is maybe 20 minutes.
Ingredients: Serves 4 (2 thighs per person)
8 (5-7 oz.) bone-in chicken thighs – I’ve only ever cooked 4 or 6, never 8, allowing 2 per diner – but the sauce is so good, I used the same amount of the other ingredients
2 oz. prosciutto – buy a hunk and chop it into ¼ cubes, or, buy the package of cubed prosciutto (Citterio brand) available at the Giant Eagle (or your local supermarket). Note: If you buy a hunk of prosciutto, put it in the freezer for 5 minutes or so to firm it up before cubing.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin lengthwise (I use 3)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
4 whole cloves
1 sprig of rosemary (about 4”)
12 fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Trim the fat and, with most commercially available chicken thighs, the extra flap of skin that doesn’t cover the thigh. Pat thighs as dry as you can get them and season both sides with freshly ground black pepper.
Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprig, mince and set aside for finishing the dish, keep the bare sprig for cooking with the chicken.
Slice the garlic
Measure out the other ingredients
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and pre-heat oven to 325 F
Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a 12-inch, oven-safe skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until prosciutto begins to brown. Maybe 3 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden brown – about 1 ½ minutes
Remove garlic and prosciutto to a plate with slotted spoon, i.e., keep oil in pan.
Increase heat to medium-high, add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down and cook – don’t move – until well browned. 5-8 minutes. Flip chicken and cook for 5 minutes until other side is well browned. Remove chicken to a plate.
Pour off fat into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons back into pan. Now sprinkle flour over fat and cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Now, slowly, add wine and broth, stirring.
Bring to a simmer, deglazing (stirring up burnt bits from bottom of pan), and cook until slightly reduced (3-4 minutes of simmering).
Stir in cloves, rosemary stem, sage leaves, bay leaves, pepper flakes and prosciutto garlic mixture.
Nestle chicken into liquid, skin side up. Skin should be above liquid.
Bake, uncovered, in oven about 75 minutes. (Check chicken after first fifteen minutes – liquid should be barely bubbling. If bubbling hard, reduce oven temp to 300 F)
When cooked, removed transfer chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. NOTE: Skillet handle will be hot enough to brand you for life, like one of the Ewing family’s cattle – so slip an oven mitt on the handle and then, with another mitt on your hand, remove the skillet from the oven. Keep the mitt on the handle of the skillet.
Discard bay leaves, cloves, rosemary stem and sage leaves, then place skillet over high heat and bring sauce to a boil, cooking until reduced to about 1 ¼ cups – 5 minutes or less.
Off the heat stir in minced rosemary, butter and lemon juice.
Pour sauce around the chicken (not over the top or you’ll sog up the beautiful skin) and serve.
EXTRA – Sticky Rice with Castelveltranto Olives
(Basic sticky-rice recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Winter Recipes)
You can add theses olives to any basic rice recipe – you’ll be surprised at how they pick up both the flavor and the look of the rice.
Why is this called sticky-rice? I have no idea. By rinsing the rice you actually take away some of the starch and most of the stickiness.
Timing: 25-30 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4-6
2 cups long-grain white rice (I used brown)
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
Cup of castelveltranto olives ripped into pieces or chopped. (Note: other olives will work but the castelveltranto are perfect adding savor and just a bit of tang. Tart green olives are fine. The milder giant black olives are a bit bland. Oil-cured are strong, but will work. The best flavor will come from castelveltranto which have not been pitted. To pit, press down with the side of a chef’s knife until you feell the olive give, then pull the flesh away from the pit)
Chopped Parsley (optional)
Place rice in a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and rinse under cold running water, swishing the rice around until bowl fills. Empty bowl and repeat maybe 5 times, until water runs fairly clear.
Bring rice, water and salt to boil in saucepan over medium-high. Cook, uncovered, until water level drops below surface of rice and small holes form – this took about 3 minutes for me, it might take longer.
Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until water is fully absorbed. About 15 minutes.
Fluff rice, add olives and parsley, if using, and serve.