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Pollo al Forno per La Festa della Mamma

05/13/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Food and Drink

Today, for Mother's Day, I'm cooking a chicken dish that I've been evolving over the years, from my grandparents' chicken spezzatino [or spitzad, as my family called it]. The chicken is cut into small pieces, something like a fricassee, though even a bit smaller, and then roasted in olive oil, herbs, spices and savories, until the chicken is very crispy. Sometimes my family would add potatoes and lima beans. I would use fava beans rather than lima beans. Sometimes white wine would be added. When I cooked at Pasta Moon, we made a dish that was somewhat similar. Here's what I'm making today, taking from one and adding from another.

This dish can be made in a roasting pan, but is best in a clay vessel, such as a Tagine, Romertopf clay baker, or the like.

First the savories. Clean and and cut into larger pieces, perhaps two inches or so, four fennel bulbs, two parsnips, two carrots, two stalks of celery and one large red torpedo onion; then add the peeled cloves from one bulb of garlic. Mix with 3 ounces of XV olive oil, a 1/4 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano and sage, a large pinch of paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of toasted ground coriander seed, and a few grinds of peppercorns and sea salt. Mix until all the pieces are nicely coated. Pour into your cooking vessel and roast at 325ºF for 30 minutes.

While the savories are roasting, cut up the chicken into cubes, two-inches or so on a side - about 5 pounds - leaving the skin on. Remember to rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Put the pieces into a bowl, and mix with 1/4 cup of XV olive oil, two or three large pinches or shakes of sweet Hungarian paprika, and a few grinds of peppercorns.

Increase the over temperature to 375ºF. Arrange the chicken pieces with the skin side up, and try to keep it all in a single layer, on top of the roasted savories. Pour the oil from the bowl over the chicken. Roast for twenty minutes.

Boil water with a nice handful of sea salt. Remove the stem from six roma tomatoes, cut an X into the opposite end, put the tomatoes into the boiling water for a few minutes until the skin at the edges of the X begin to curl away from the meat of the tomato, remove the tomatoes and place in a bowl of cold water. Remove the skins from the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half, cross-wise, and remove the seeds with a small spoon. Place the tomatoes in a colander and allow to drain.

Place cleaned, Italian green beans [the wide, flat ones] into the boling water, bring the water back to a boil and parboil the bean pods for no more than five minutes. Remove the bean pods from the boiling water and plunge into an ice bath [50/50 ice and water by volume]. Allow to cool, and then remove the bean pods to a colander to dry.

Clean and cut the ends off of six pattypan squash. I use a mix of green and yellow. Set aside.

Peel and cut lengthwise three yukon gold potatoes, into six wedges from each potato. Grind some sea salt over the potatoes.

Remove the chicken pieces from the roasting vessel. Add a glass of the white wine that you'll be serving with the meal [I like a Pinot Grigio] and 8 ounces of chicken stock to the cooking vessel with the savories; add the potatoes, tomatoes and squash to the cooking vessel, and stir around. If the chicken pieces need more cooking, mix them in as well. The juices from the chicken should be running clear. If there is no juice, even after pricking a piece with a fork, the chicken is either over done [oops] or not cooked at all [unlikely]. Add the liver, gizzard and heart from the chicken, if you have it.

Reduce the oven temperature back down to 325ºF, and cook for another 15 minutes. The chicken should definitely be done: crispy with clear juices just barely coming out. Remove the chicken pieces, leave the chicken innards, add the green beans, try to bring the potato pieces to the top, and place back in the oven for another ten minutes. Let the chicken pieces rest.

Arrange the chicken pieces around the rim of a large serving plate, pile the vegetables and savories in the center. Serve with some hearty bread and that fine white wine you so carefully picked out. Toast Mamma per esprimere il proprio affetto e dire parole gentili and enjoy.

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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

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