Chicken Vesuvio

There is absolutely nothing that comes as close to comfort food as chicken and potatoes. My mother would bake some form of chicken with potatoes at least two Sundays out of the month. Nothing was more welcomed than a pan of golden chicken with crispy potatoes and bits of caramelized onions, that my father and I would fight for, stuck to the bottom of the pan.

My mother had an unusual set up for her baking, she never used the oven in the main kitchen. We had a full kitchen in the basement and she would always use that oven, saying it kept the house cooler. Not sure why she would mind from November through March. But that was mom’s logic. You see, before I came into the world my grandparents, who lived on the second floor of our two family house, rented the back rooms of the main floor to other tenants. My mother and father and brother and sister lived in the front rooms of the main floor and the basement. So naturally we had a full bathroom and kitchen in the basement. It wasn’t till I arrived that my parents needed more room and my grandfather made the tenants move out and gave the entire main floor to us, basement included.

Just before dinner was ready my mother would pick one of us to go downstairs and get the roast. How we managed to carry that hot pan of food up a full flight of steps without only one disaster is a amazing. And of course that one time that my father tripped on the last landing spilling the beans was just that. I heard words I never heard before coming from my fathers mouth. It was epic.

There are many variations of chicken and potatoes. Chicken Vesuvio is said to have originated in Chicago around the 1940’s. It’s an Italian/American dish that most likely came from someone in the south of Italy. Naples would be a good guess being the the name of the infamous volcano is part of the recipe’s name. The ingredients are few, but the flavors just all come together in a simply wonderful chicken and potato meal. And it’s made in one pan.

Chicken Vesuvio

4 chicken drum sticks

4 chicken thighs ( you can include the breast, as long as it’s on the bone)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 -4 large cloves garlic, whole

1 russet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks. ( you can add as many potatoes as you need for the amount of servings you want).

1/2 medium onion, rough chop

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

3/4 cup dry white wine

Package or 10 oz of frozen peas or artichoke hearts, or both.

Salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper your chicken on both sides. Place a large fry or sauté pan on medium high heat, large enough to hold all the chicken. Add the olive oil and garlic. When oil is hot add the chicken pieces skin side down.

Brown for about 4-5 minutes then turn the chicken to brown the other side. Remove the chicken and garlic and place on a plate.

Add the potatoes and onions to the hot pan along with the thyme. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Cook till onions become translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Lower the heat and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cook down about 1 minute. Push the potatoes and onions off to the side and add the chicken along with the garlic back to the pan, skin side up. Mix the potatoes all around the chicken.

Place in your 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or when the chicken is fully cooked. After 20 minutes add 1/2 cup of water if chicken is too dry, if you want more crisp potatoes don’t add any water.

The last 10 minutes add the peas/and or artichoke hearts to the pan and mix with everything else.

About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. When Peter is not out selling, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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