Chicken Vesuvio

It's ninety-two years since Alfredo Capitanini, a recent immigrant from a small town in Tuscany, opened The Italian Village Restaurant. Over the years, succeeding generations opened two more restaurants-each with its own identity and menu- in the same building: La Cantina and The Florentine Room. In 1990, The Florentine Room became Vivere, a contemporary Italian restaurant with an updated menu and decor.

The  menus in all three restaurants have changed over time. Some dishes, such as the lasagna, have been part of the repertoire from the beginning, while others are more recent additions. At some point, ChickenVesuvio, a dish indigenous to Chicago, joined the repetoire. No one knows the exact origins of the dish, but it's a perennial favorite.

What is known for sure is that the dish is named for Mount Vesuvio, the volcano that erupted in 79 AD. The eruption destroyed the cities of both Pompeii and Herculaneum.When the cooked dish is properly plated-with the potatoes arranged on top of the chicken or vice versa-it’s easier to understand the reference to the famous volcano. 

Plating is interesting, but it isn’t the reason for the dish’s popularity. That honor is reserved for the mingled flavors in the finished dish: garlic, olive oil, white wine, Idaho Russet potatoes, and -of course- chicken. It’s like a home run with the bases loaded.

The following recipe is courtesy of the Italian Village Restaurants.

Chicken Vesuvio

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F

Ingredients

1 fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs)

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled & mashed

1 tablespoon oregano, dried

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 large Idaho Russet potatoes, peeled & cut into thick wedges

2 cups canola oil for frying

Directions

  1. Clean chicken, rinse with cold water, and pat dry
  2. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium/high heat.  When oil is hot, carefully place chicken in pan- using tongs-breasts and thighs first, then the rest. Brown well on all sides. Remove chicken from pan.
  3. Pour off all but a few tablespoons oil. Return chicken to skillet and place uncovered in hot oven for 25 minutes, turning chicken once or twice.
  4. While chicken is cooking prep potatoes, rinsing and pat dry. Heat 2 cups of canola oil to 350-degreesF. Carefully add wedges into hot oil about 4 at a time. Avoid crowding. Fry potatoes until golden. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Save for later.
  5. For the last five minutes of cooking, add add the potatoes, garlic, oregano and white wine to the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven for five minutes. Take the skillet out of the oven, add the parsley, and gently turn the chicken and potatoes gently with a spoon,
  6. Remove the chicken and place it on a large platter. Arrange the potatoes atop the chicken. Pour the juices over everything.

The Italian Village Restaurants, 71 W. Monroe

For more about The Italian Village Restaurants click on: http://www.chicagonow.com/a-bite-of-chicago/2019/07/cocktails-noodles-and-zoodles/

Filed under: Cool Recipes

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