Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pollo alla Calabrese

Today was an absolutely beautiful day!  I wanted to spend the whole day outside!  And since Ian's apartment is approximately ten degrees warmer than the hallway, cooking for the whole afternoon wasn't a priority today.  Usually it doesn't bother me, but today I was just so happy sitting by the window reading that I lost track of time!  At dinner I wanted something healthy but filling.  I have adopted this Pollo alla Calabrese recipe into my repertoir as a simple, but delicious "go-to" meal.  It is a wonderful mix of hearty and refreshing, if that makes sense.  This recipe is from my new favorite cookbook called My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino.  This is a cookbook that is full of family recipes from southern Italy.  I love the family stories and the gorgeous pictures!

This is a one-dish meal, but I'd hardly call it a casserole (I always picture Cream of Mushroom Soup in casseroles, don't you?).  I made this dish for two people.  Adjust the ingredients to how many you'll be cooking for!  Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.  You will need chicken, 3 ripe tomatoes (of any kind), two yukon gold potatoes, three cloves of garlic, and one large yellow onion.

*A word from the, err, wise... Spray your baking dish!!!!  The olive oil in the dish does not keep things from sticking, big time... bad news.

Peel and chop the potatoes, chop the tomatoes, slice the onion, and cut each garlic clove in half.  Put them into the casserole dish and salt them.  I only used 1/2 teaspoon, but you can use more if you'd like.

Nice and pretty, don't you think!?  I do.  Next for the chicken.  Now here is my two cents on chicken.  First, buy organic, free-range, antibiotic free... whatever!  Not only is it better for you, it tastes better.  And if it's just a mental thing, I'm OK with that.  Because it is delicious.  Next buy these:

This is a saddle leg, which has the leg, thigh, and backbone and sells at approximately $0.59 a pound.  I serve one per person, so Ian and I ate free-range chicken for $1.20 tonight.  You could also buy thighs if you don't feel like dealing with cutting, but it really only takes about 5 extra minutes on an already simple meal.  So, just try it once, please?  All you have to do is cut the backbone out.  It's not that hard, you just follow the meat on the bone down with your knife, and then push hard to cut at the joint.  You can split the leg and thigh if you want, but it's not necessary.

Use the skinny knife ("boning" knife) to cut down the back bone and then the larger knife to separate the joint.  Once you've done that, season it with salt and pepper and lay over top the vegetables.

Add 3 tablespoons of fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried oregano nd drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over the top.  Use your hands and toss everything together so that the chicken and vegetables are coated with the oil and oregano.  Then lay the vegetables nicely on the bottom and the chicken over top.

The excellent thing about oregano is that it smells before you put it in the oven.  Sprinkle some cayenne pepper over the chicken and put it in the oven.

Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy-ish  Then flip the chicken and cook for about 20 minutes more until there is no liquid in the pan.

Serve immediately!  This recipe is so delicious and hearty.  The onions caramelize some and the potatoes taste almost buttery.  It is absolutely perfect for a winter meal, and being in Chicago on May 1, I assumed it would be cold when I bought these ingredients.  But you can make this recipe whenever you are craving some healthy comfort food!

Pollo alla Calabrese
2 chicken saddle legs
3 tomatoes
2 yukon gold potatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 large yellow onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or 3 tablespoon fresh oregano
salt and pepper for seasoning
cayenne pepper for seasoning chicken


  1. Sounds delicious. My husband loves chicken legs and thighs the best.

    I see you are just down the lake from me :)

  2. I love them too! They have so much more flavor than the white meat! I also save the back bone for stock :) Don't you love it here in the spring?!