Friday, February 15, 2013

Chicken Vesuvio, A Wedding, and a Great Shabbat Dinner



Chicken Vesuvio

 It only took me 33 years to discover Chicken Vesuvio. Pretty pathetic, I know. After all I grew up off of I57, spent numerous years trailing my parents to various restaurants in Chicago and yet had never had Chicken Vesuvio. I think they were holding out on me. It took going back for a wedding 21 years ago to bring it to my attention. And it has held it ever since.

 Chicken Vesuvio is a Chicago dish filled with lots of garlic, oregano and wine. And, of course, chicken. And I didn’t mention the potatoes; my first favorite food among many. Golden brown crispy potatoes covered with garlic and oregano and wine. The smell alone could kill you. And it is a smell and a taste that stays with you. After all, I’ve been making it ever since.

It’s a story that began with an invitation to my Uncle’s daughter’s wedding which must have been about 22 years ago because my kids were a year old. We had just moved into a home about 30 minutes away from our first place that was caving in under the addition of two more. The only babysitters I knew were teenagers who lived near our old place. And then the wedding invitation came and my mother said you have to be there. Now, it is not that I didn’t want to be. I mean the thought of escaping from 2 roving, almost one year olds was appealing. And unpacking boxes in a new house – well, those could wait. So I made the airline reservations and began to pray. I mean leaving my two children with two teenagers in a strange neighborhood, in a strange house and missing their first birthday – well that would equate to child abuse today. But I did it anyway. And I missed Zoe’s first steps and of course there are no 1st birthday photos with those cute little pointed birthday hats and those cute little faces smeared with chocolate frosting. But I did get the recipe for Chicken Vesuvio. That will have to do.

The rehearsal dinner was held at Harry Carey’s in Chicago. I was seated at a table with someone I had been fixed up with on a blind date many years before. We each introduced our spouses to each other. What fun. But that fun was quickly replaced with little cast iron pans of – you guessed it- Chicken Vesuvio being placed before us. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I’m still not sure if the thought of eating and only feeding myself was contributing to this exhilarating feeling but whatever it was has never left. I still love Chicken Vesuvio even if it leaves my cook top a giant greasy mess.

You can go online to find links too many dishes that say they are from Harry’s and maybe they are. Mine is very close and I’m not sure that it is that different. But it is mine. You decide. I will tell you the bonus recipe of Chicken Vesuvio hash is mine because I so totally made it up. It is almost better than the real thing but you have to go to the real thing to get to it. I will also tell you that Chicken Vesuvio is a great dish for Shabbat. You can get it ready ahead of time and throw it in the oven when you desire. It is perfect for a winter’s night and it makes your home smell warm and inviting. All be it – Italian.

But I almost forgot. The wedding? It was fabulous. And my cousin is still married. And her youngest will soon be having a Bar Mitzvah. Just maybe they will serve Chicken Vesuvio. Wishful thinking, perhaps?



Chicken Vesuvio (serves 4)
1 4 lb chicken cut up into 8 pieces
4 potatoes peeled and quartered lengthwise
10 cloves of garlic
Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder
1/2 c olive oil
1 ½ c white wine or vermouth (I prefer vermouth)
1  ½ c chicken stock
1 c frozen green peas
3 T chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put ¼ c olive oil in your favorite cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat. (No, you don’t need cast iron, but I do bake my chicken in this. Otherwise you may have to transfer it to a pan.)

Add 5 cloves of garlic to oil. Then add chicken and brown on each side. You may have to do this in stages. And don’t crowd the chicken, it takes longer that way. If your garlic cloves start to burn take them out. After chicken is all browned remove from skillet and do the same with potatoes. If at any time you think you need more olive oil feel free to add it. When potatoes are brown remove from skillet. 

 Now use your vermouth or wine and deglaze your pan. Let simmer a minute and scrape the bottom of your pan. Now add the other 5 garlic cloves and and chicken stock. Let t simmer about 5-10 minutes to thicken until reduced by half.

Add back chicken and potatoes that have now been WELL SEASONED with garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper and place in hot oven. Place the potatoes on top of the liquid so they stay crisp! Otherwise you will get soggy potatoes. Bake for about 45 minutes until chicken and potatoes are well browned and crisp. Add frozen peas during last 15 minutes of baking.

When chicken is cooked removed from oven sprinkle with 2T vermouth mixed with the parsley and 1 minced garlic clove.

 Light the candles and eat.

BONUS RECIPE:  Chicken Vesuvio Hash (Since there are now just two of us eating enough chicken for four)

½ cup chopped onion
1 red pepper chopped
1 T olive oil
Leftover chicken from above with skin and bones removed, chopped
Potatoes, chopped
¼ c white wine
Salt and Pepper

Fried eggs optional
Ketchup, possibly!

Heat oil in pan and add pepper and onions. Saute until soft. Add chicken and potatoes and cook until golden. Use wine to delaze pan. Add rest of Vesuvio mixture like the sauce and peas to pan. Let brown some more and get a little crusty. It is ready to eat fried egg or not!









24 comments:

  1. I've never had Chicken Vesuvio! I've heard of it, of course, but I guess I've never had the opportunity. My loss - this looks terrific! And pretty - the peas really garish it nicely. Good photos - I'm a sucker for overhead shots, and you've done them well in this post.

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  2. Try it if you get the chance! It is hard to go wrong with garlic and potatoes. And thank you for the compliment. You are the best in my book. But with your encouragement I keep trying!

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  3. Now you've done it! You've let the cat out of the bag and soon we'll be paying double for chicken diablo in restaurants. Lucky for us all, this looks like a very good recipe. We're going to need it because very soon we Chicagoans will be cooking chicken diablo at home. :)

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  4. Well, Chicago John, I hate to say it...my brother's favorite dish is chicken diablo! Glad you like this since I consider you the expert of anything Italian.

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  5. ooh! i've never had chicken vesuvio, but i probably should since i'm from chicago! thank you for the recipe!!

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  6. Molly, It should be a requirement if you are from Chicago! Enjoy and thanks for writing.

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  7. Oh, I don't think I've ever tried a Chicken Vesuvio! What am I missing out. This dish looks wonderful. With garlic, oregano and wine? oh my, those are definitely my favorite ingredients!

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  8. Beautiful recipe with perfect pictures !
    Thank you :)

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  9. I have never had chicken Vesuvio, but I know I will love it as it has all my favourite ingredients! I will need to add more peas as I am crazy for them!

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  10. Thanks, Chef! I got lucky this time with photos because it is a pretty dish! And Angie, the peas really give this dish a fresh, sweet taste to balance the garlic and wine. Try it!

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  11. Wow this looks really tasty, and I love that it has 10 cloves of garlic, the best!

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  12. Hi from your cousin who has carpet on the stove, as they say! But you have inspired me with this recipe and others to set the table and try to cook!!!!! Love from Mickey in Miami

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  13. I can't say I've heard that expression! And you should try to cook. Your mom was a good one. And the cousins in SAfrica say that they will never forget your dad's prime rib. it is a food memory for them. Love you Mickey!

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  14. I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! I left out the onions because they are gross, and used two giant bone in chicken breasts, but the results were amazing - super tender chicken, crispy skin and melt in your mouth potatoes.

    Thanks for the recipe for this great Sunday Night Supper!

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  15. Thanks so much Biz. Actually the bone in chicken has lots more flavor than boneless. Glad it worked for you! My favorite part is definitely the potatoes! But aren't you supposed to be watching the Oscars?

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  16. I made this last night. It was so good! Thank you for the recipe! This is definitely being added to the list of repeat dinners. And we finally got a chance to use our new, freshly seasoned, cast iron skillet!

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  17. I was just thinking what to do with a tray of chicken I have in the fridge. The flavors of this recipe are calling my name! Wonderful dish.

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  18. I've made something like this many times...I love it! Thanks for telling me what it's called! :-)

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  19. Do you cover it when it goes in the oven? Thank you.

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  20. Tammy, do not cover it. And make sure the potatoes are just sitting on top so they stay nice and crispy. It is sooo good! Then try the chicken scarpariello. That is my favorite. And thanks for writing. Hope to see you again!

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  21. Those pictures are extremely, astonishingly appetizing! profusely drool-inducing! Seriously...honestly...I got goosebumps looking at the pretty stuff in the cast iron skillet :)

    An unusual, new recipe to me. Thanks a lot for that :)

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