When the leaves start to turn red and gold I begin thinking of my favorite cold weather comfort foods, and this dish certainly qualifies. It’s perfect homestyle food, a dish of fried chicken and vegetables with a delectable sauce.
I’ve played around with this a bit, sometimes using chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken, but always with crimini mushrooms and doubling the vegetables and sauce. We are a family that likes our sauce, so if you don’t want so much you can halve the vegetables, wine, and tomatoes. You can prepare the dish up to one day in advance. Just let the chicken cool completely before putting it all in the refrigerator. Then reheat it all the next day in a covered pan, keeping it at a slow simmer until the chicken pieces are heated all the way through.
[Updated September 20, 2011.]
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan.
large saute pan with a lid (large enough to hold all the chicken pieces)
plate or pan for dredging flour
3 to 4 pound (1.36 to 1.8 k) chicken, cut into pieces, or 6 to 8 small to medium chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose lour for dredging, or gluten-free alternative
black pepper, freshly ground
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1-1/3 cup (320 ml) dry white wine (an Italian Pinot Grigio works very nicely)
8 ounces (227 g) sliced cremini mushrooms
2 medium to large bell pepper, colors of your choice, cut into julienne strips
2 carrots, cut into thin disks
1 stalk celery, sliced thin crosswise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce/425 g) can diced tomatoes, with the juice
1. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel.
2. Add the oil to the saute pan over medium hight heat. Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating on all sides. Shake off the excess flour and put them into the pan, skin side down. Cook until brown, then turn the pieces over and brown the other side. Remove the chicken pieces and put them on a warm plate. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Turn the heat back up to medium high and add the sliced onion to the pan. Cook until the onion is deep golden. Add the wine and deglaze the pan for about 30 seconds, scraping the tasty brown bits (fond) up from the bottom of the pan.
4. Add chicken thighs and legs to the pot along with the red and yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, and diced tomatoes. Cook at a slow simmer with the lid on for about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken and put on a serving platter. If the sauce is a bit watery, turn the heat up to high and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens a bit. Serve the sauce and chicken together.
If you decide to use just chicken breasts, hold off adding them to the sauce until about 10 to 15 minutes before it finishes cooking.