Who wouldn’t want to dig in to this plate of chicken and roasted potato wedges? You don’t need to know that September is National Potato Month; August 19th is National Potato Day. This is comfort food for every day of the year.
The recipe comes to us from the Chicago restaurant La Scarola (Italian for escarole), specializing in southern Italian food with lots of white wine and fresh tomato sauce.
The restaurant cites illustrious clientele such as Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp, Bill Murray and the Sinatra family. But true connoisseurs are just as illustrious.
Thanks to proprietor Joe Mondelli and chef Armando Vasquez for this Chicken Vesuvio recipe.
Chicken Vesuvio, a specialty of Chicago, is an Italian-American dish made from chicken on the bone and wedges of potato, sautéed with garlic, oregano, white wine and olive oil. It’s then baked until the chicken’s skin becomes crisp.
The casserole is often garnished with a few green peas for color; although baby arugula is a lovely touch (instead or with the peas).
In Chicago, one also often finds the technique applied to other foods: Steak Vesuvio, Pork Chops Vesuvio, even Vesuvio potatoes.
While the origins of the dish are not known, it might have been popularized by the Vesuvio Restaurant, which operated at 15 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, in the 1930s. Some food historians have suggested that variants of Chicken Vesuvio can be found among the chicken dishes of the traditional cuisines of southern Italy [source].
This recipe is straight from La Scarola restaurant, and is restaurant-sized: three whole chickens! It’s easy to divide the ingredients by three to make dinner for four.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Arrange the potatoes in single layer on one or two sheet pans. Add water to barely cover bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with foil; bake 15 minutes until potatoes are partially cooked. Remove from the oven.
2. SEASON the chicken with salt, pepper and oregano. Add equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil to coat a deep, wide skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin side down, leaving space in the pan to add potatoes. Use multiple pans if needed. Brown the chicken on one side, about 10 minutes.
3. TURN the chicken over; add enough potatoes proportionately to the number of chicken servings in the pan. Cook until the second side of chicken is brown.
4. ADD the garlic and place the pan(s) in the oven. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (165°F in the center).
5. RETURN the pan to the stove. Add the stock, wine and peas proportionately to the number of servings in the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Cook 5 minutes. Gradually add the butter and stir until the sauce is slightly reduced and creamy. Stir in the parsley.