Before trying this recipe, I had yet to experience the pleasure of the pure, strong flavors that Chicken Vesuvio is meant to be. This is a classic Italian dish – one that is often butchered by American Italian restaurants. When I recently ordered it at Chicago’s Carmine’s, the dish that arrived was one of soggy, salty chicken, sitting in a pool of watery broth. Yuck.
THIS one however, a recipe that is a staple in Cowboy’s Italian family, is heavenly. The short list of ingredients is what makes this dish so good. One appreciates the mellow sweetness of the garlic, the assertive peppery & saltiness of the chicken, and the crispy goodness of the potatoes – all punctuated by the pleasant addition of vibrant green peas.
This is what Italian cooking is meant to be – pure, delicious, and uncomplicated. Italians truly know how to get the most out of their ingredients. They use the most favorable flavor combinations in their cooking – ones that have been tested time and time again – and often do so at the risk of being pigeonholed as “boring.” There’s a reason these ingredients have been paired together for so long. Why mess with something so beautiful in its simplicity by adding unnecessary ingredients? Basta!
4 chicken breasts
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
12 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ lb. frozen petite peas, cooked, and tossed with 1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose white flour OR white whole wheat flour
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fine grain sea salt
½ cup olive oil
1.) Preheat oven to 350. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water while you prepare. (Soaking the potatoes in water prior to cooking helps to create that divine crispy, brown crust). Place flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a plastic bag. Place chicken in bag, twist the top to close, and shake to coat chicken with flour and seasonings.
2.) Start cooking the potatoes and chicken at the same time. Simmer potatoes over medium-high heat while you sauté chicken pieces in olive oil in a sauté pan. Your goal here is simply to brown the chicken a bit before it goes in the oven, so a few minutes on each side should do the trick.
3.) Once browned, remove chicken from pan and place in a 9 x 15 glass baking dish with the garlic cloves. Add potatoes to the sauté pan, working in batches if pan is too crowded, and sauté until lightly browned as well.
4.) Add potatoes to baking dish, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the contents of the dish.
5.) Bake for 1 hr and 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how thick your chicken breasts are, until chicken and potatoes are browned, adding the peas 10 minutes before you take the chicken out of the oven.