Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chicken Canzanese

In case you’ve never noticed, Ginny and I (though residing many miles apart) often share recipes we find. Sometimes one of us makes the dish and passes the recipe on to the other. Other times we hoard several recipes we both want to try and make them all during one of our semi-regular visits.

On this occasion, I had a package of chicken thighs in the refrigerator and absolutely zero ideas for dinner. The hubs isn’t the biggest fan of chicken to begin with, but I insist on rotating it between his regular meals of beef and pork. So, the dish had to be Matt-approved. The oven baked BBQ chicken quarters I made a few weeks ago did NOT pass muster, so I was really pushing my luck bringing these treacherous little thighs back into the rotation as it is.

Ginny and I talk pretty much every day after work, so I posed the dilemma to her and she reminded me, without pause, of the dish she had recently made for her parents and got the seal of approval from everyone. She has been a long time fan of America’s Test Kitchen, and, recipe by recipe, she is bringing me over to the dark side with her.

If you’re not familiar, at America’s Test Kitchen, they take a recipe and test it to within an inch of its life, through trial and error and finding the absolutely best version of it. And this is not just a matter of opinion. Its not solely based on the ingredients. Many times, its about the method. We have found, on multiple occasions, that if you follow an America’s Test Kitchen recipe to the letter, you will end up with an absolutely fool-proof meal.

As was the case with this Chicken Canzanese.

The name hails from Canzano, which is in Italy’s Abruzzo region (yes, I googled it). While there are many versions of this age-old dish, none that I found seem to stray very far off the path. I’d never made it before, but I can tell you with certainty that I will never even attempt another version.

There is no need.

The America’s Test Kitchen task, in this case, was to find a way to cook/braise skin-on chicken without having the skin turn into a chewy, slimy, unappetizing mess.

I call them overachievers. But, in a good way.

This chicken was moist and succulent, but the skin remained crispy and golden, even after braising for over an hour. And the sauce? Oh, the sauce..... it was a revelation. The thighs are braised in a mixture of white wine and herbs, flavored with prosciutto and garlic. Even the hubs loved the know, once I pointed out to him that it would be better on his roasted red-skinned potatoes that the piles of butter and cheese he topped them with.

Just to be clear.... this dish is “lick the plate” good. Hell, its “lick your whole family’s plates” good! I am officially an America’s Test Kitchen convert.

Chicken Canzanese
From the episode: Italian Comfort Classics
Serves 4 to 6

When seasoning the dish at the end, be mindful that the prosciutto adds a fair amount of salt. It is
important to use a piece of thickly sliced prosciutto in this recipe; thin strips will become tough
and stringy. An equal amount of thickly sliced pancetta or bacon can be used in place of the
prosciutto. Serve the chicken with boiled potatoes, noodles, or polenta to absorb extra sauce.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces prosciutto (1/4 inch thick), cut into 1/4-inch cubes (see note) (I used bacon)
4 medium garlic cloves , sliced thin lengthwise
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and skin
ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 whole cloves
1 (4-inch) sprig fresh rosemary , leaves removed and minced fine (about 1/2 teaspoon),
stem reserved
12 whole fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Table salt

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat
1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovensafe skillet over medium heat until
shimmering. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown,
about 3 minutes. Add garlic slices and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden
brown, about 1½ minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic and prosciutto to small
bowl and set aside. Do not rinse pan.
2. Increase heat to medium-high; add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and heat until just
smoking. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with ground black pepper. Add
chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
Using tongs, turn chicken and brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer
chicken to large plate.
3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Sprinkle flour over fat and cook, stirring
constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add wine and broth; bring to simmer, scraping bottom
of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Cook until liquid is slightly reduced,
3 minutes. Stir in cloves, rosemary stem, sage leaves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes,
and reserved prosciutto and garlic. Nestle chicken into liquid, skin side up (skin should
be above surface of liquid), and bake, uncovered, until meat offers no resistance when
poked with fork but is not falling off bones, about 1 hour 15 minutes. (Check chicken
after 15 minutes; broth should be barely bubbling. If bubbling vigorously, reduce oven
temperature to 300 degrees.)
4. Using tongs, transfer chicken to serving platter and tent with foil. Remove and discard
sage leaves, rosemary stem, cloves, and bay leaves. Place skillet over high heat and bring
sauce to boil. Cook until sauce is reduced to 1¼ cups, 2 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in
minced rosemary, lemon juice, and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour
sauce around chicken and serve.


ARLENE said...

I agree that the recipes from ATK are great. I adore chicken thighs and will definitely try this one.

scrambledhenfruit said...

Love those ATK recipes- this one looks like a keeper. I need more "lick the plate" meals in my life. :)