Sicilian-Style Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken Sicilian Style

Roasted Chicken Sicilian Style

We also called this chicken “Italian-style” when I was growing up (even tho everything was Italian-style…except for the occasional hot dogs and even Italians like hot dogs). To me it was “chicken with salad dressing.” Don’t get me wrong, I love this recipe, but the ingredients are salad dressing and that’s how I always remembered the recipe: olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic. And there you have it. That’s the recipe. But check out more details below.

My mom recently informed me that it’s not “Italian-style” chicken, but Sicilian-Style since she learned it from her mother-in-law and guess where her mother-in-law (my grandmother) was from? Yes, that’s right. Sicily. (Note: I added the lemon & parsley touch. Wherever I can get flavor and color I take it.)

This chicken is so tasty you’ll likely eat every piece in one sitting. But don’t. Probably not good for your waistline (or mine).

Sicilian-Style Chicken

1 chicken, cut up into 8-10 pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or balsamic

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered

1-2 tablespoons dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lemon, sliced into thin wedges

2-3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, leaves minced, stems discarded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Season chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Place in a roasted pan. Drizzle olive oil, drizzle vinegar, sprinkle with garlic and oregano. Roast for 45minutes-1 hour until an instant read thermometer reads 165 in the thickest part of the thigh. Then turn on broiler and broil for about 2-3 minutes to golden.

Remove pieces to serving platter. Drizzle some of the juices. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve.

I also demo’ed this recipe on WSMV-TV Channel 4 Nashville. Here’s the video segment:

Sicilian Chicken segment on WSMV-TV Channel 4 Nashville

Buon Appetito!

Asparagus. Easy. With 3 Levels of Tasty.

Asparagus w 3 Flavors

Asparagus w 3 Flavors

I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets nervous if there isn’t a green dish somewhere amongst the dinner menu. I need to have at least one dish that has green in it. Or a whole bowl of green all by itself. Broccoli rabe is my first go-to green. I love Swiss chard, too. String beans. Escarole. Dandelion. And even romaine for a salad.

Then there’s asparagus. What an unusual animal. No other green quite like it. A tall, completely edible (almost), stalk. Ever see how they grow? They rise from the earth like mini-skyscrapers (yet I’m sure they have no interest in going any higher than your knee and even that’s “stretching” it). And, yes, ancient people loved them, too. There’s a recipe for asparagus from Apicius (Roman Empire gourmand with a fondness for recording recipes…thank you!): “…immerse in boiling water backwards,” which reminds me there is even cookware made especially for cooking asparagus (I’ve never used any). Wikipedia just told me that Romans would even freeze asparagus up in the snowy Alps so they’d have plenty for the Feast of Epicurus (no, not the website).

I make asparagus a million different ways. They cook so fast so they pop up as the green at the table often. Here’s one way that gets you asparagus PLUS 3 flavors (1. garlic 2. lemon 3. parmigiano) all in one.

First: peel and slice (thinly) 3-4 cloves of garlic. Heat a little olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add the garlic slices. Sauté till they become deep brown. You’ll be doing what everyone always says “DON’T do.” Cooking garlic to dark brown. Trust me. It becomes chewy and yummy, not bitter. Lift garlic out of oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Don’t throw out the oil.

Rinse and dry a lemon. Cut lemon into 1/4-inch tiny pieces. Peel and all.

Line a sheet pan with foil and drizzle a little olive oil over it. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus (or cut them all off in one fell swoop). Lay out the asparagus on the sheet pan in one layer.  Drizzle more olive oil (don’t forget the garlic oil). Sprinkle more salt. And a little pepper. Sprinkle lemon pieces.

Roast in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes until tender or crisp-tender. Transfer asparagus and lemon pieces to serving plate and sprinkle golden garlic. Toss to combine. Add a dusting of about 1/4 cup of grated parmigiano.

Oh. Yeah. Enjoy.

About 15 minutes later witness the great mystery that’s been observed since early man. Asparagus pea (yes, I just spelled that wrong. Just couldn’t say the other word around food).

Artichokes. Carciofi. Keep it simple. But do indulge.

Carciofi alla Romana

Carciofi alla Romana

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love and admire artichokes. In Italian: carciofi. Also, my favorite Italian word. If I had the opportunity to change my name I would change it to carciofi. First name or last name. Or both. Carciofi Carciofi, pleased to meet you.

I can’t remember the first time I had artichokes. It had to be very young. My family takes the artichoke in stride. Artichokes are as common, and as likely to be part of the table, as a plate or fork. Or possibly bread. Ridiculously easy to prepare. And so tastebud fulfilling, you always feel confident in the meal when artichokes are brought to the table.

My recipe has evolved over the years. I used to stuff the leaves with parsley and garlic. Now I simply put parsley and garlic in the cooking water with a heavy douse of olive oil, salt & pepper. First, trim the tops. Cut off about a third. Snip the thorns from the tips of all the leaves. Cut off the stems. Set them up, standing tall, side by side in a heavy sauce pan. Fill with water about halfway up. Drizzle a bunch of olive oil on artichokes and in water. Season with salt & pepper. Let cook for about 30-40 minutes until very tender.

Enjoy by nibbling the leaf tips. And if you’re drinking a glass of wine, with each artichoke bite your sip of wine will taste Odd/Strange. Some chemical reaction. But that never stopped me. Don’t let it stop you.

You say rapini. I say broccoli rabe.

I wonder why the bitter taste is an Italian favorite. I’m Italian-American and I seem to have the gene: Campari and broccoli rabe are my two bitter favorites.

Sometimes when I open a new bunch of broccoli rabe I can smell the bitterness sailing up from the bunch without even sniffing close. I can open the refrigerator and if there’s a bunch of broccoli rabe in there and I can smell it. And even though most times I’m buying Andy Boy brand, not every bunch is so strong. It’s hard to know what makes the difference from bunch to bunch: sun, rain, soil, month?

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The little bud-like clusters are the best parts. I like to include some of the thick stem pieces, too. I cut it all into a little larger than bite-sized pieces, leaving out the really thick stems. (I cut those off from the entire bunch before removing the twist tie.) It’s very easy to make and I’ve adjusted my cooking style for broccoli rabe over the years.

I used to get a saucepan boiling with water and plunge it in. Let it cook until almost tender. Then drain, and saute in a skillet with olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes until cooked through and tender/al dente to the bite.

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Now I just use a large skillet with a little water in it (about a 1/4-1/2 inch). Get that boiling. Then add the broccolie rabe and cook to tenderish. By then most of the water has evaporated. Then I add some olive oil and the garlic and pepper flakes and season. It skips a step and comes out more delicious!

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Eat it straight. Or add it to pasta. Stays nice leftover, too.

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Grilled Eggplant Parmigiano

All you need is a grill and a food processor. No need to turn on stove or oven.

Slice your eggplant into medium thin slices. Brush with olive oil, season with salt & pepper. Grill until softened, imprinted with grill lines, and even charred a bit. Also grill two big tomatoes sliced in half, 1 large onion, peeled and sliced in half, and 2-3 cloves of garlic (keep them together so they don’t fall through the grill or hold together with skewer). Pulse the grilled tomatoes, onion, and peeled grilled garlic cloves in the food processor until you have a smooth sauce (or chunky if you like). Season with salt & pepper. Spoon some sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (I use an alimunum one since it’s going back on the grill). Place a layer of eggplant slices on top, spoon some sauce, sprinkle grated parmigiano, scatter cubes or slices of mozzarella. Repeat in one or two more layers. Place back on a very low grill (or use top grate away from direct heat if you have one). Close cover and cook until cheese melts and is bubbling.

Now pour a glass of cool Italian white wine (Frascati? Pinot Grigio? Soave?) and enjoy…preferably outoors in a garden fragrant with basil and ripening figs. 🙂