Though it's not an authentic Italian dish, Chicken Vesuvio tastes like it could be. In actuality, it's a specialty of the Italian-American restaurants in my home town of Chicago, invented sometime in the 1930s and still going strong as a favorite around town. It's a rich, stewed dish with key elements of creamy potatoes, white wine, and plenty of garlic—as well as the final sprinkle of peas to give it color and freshness.
This version comes from Saveur and keeps things simple in the ingredients list. I adapted it somewhat to save time, aiming to bring this one in close to the one-hour mark (the key is to cut the potatoes in smaller chunks so they cook more quickly). The result is perfect December food and easy to prepare.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 3-4 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 3 pound chicken legs)
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Heat an oven to 325°F. In a roasting pan (or a large (14-inch) oven-proof skillet), heat the olive oil over medium until shimmering. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.
Add the chicken to the skillet, skin-side down. Cook until golden and crisp, then turn and cook the other side until golden as well. Add the wine and cook until it reduces by half.
Return the garlic and potatoes to the pan, along with the chicken stock, parsley, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Add the peas to the pan with 5 minutes left in the cooking time. Serve with the roasting juices in the pan.