Aug 27, 2013

Lidia Bastianich My Mother's Chicken and Potatoes

Lidia Bastianich My Mother's Chicken and Potatoes. In my family, favorite dishes are always being altered according to what is available and what is best — especially when I’m cooking. Here’s a perfect example: chicken and potatoes, fried together in a big skillet so they’re crisp and moist at the same time, is my mother’s specialty. Growing up, my brother and I demanded it every week; our kids, Tanya and Joe and Eric, Paul and Estelle, clamored for it too. And now the next generation of little ones are asking their great-grandmother to make chicken and potatoes for them.

When I am at the stove I follow my mother’s basic procedures, though I can’t resist playing around. Some days I add sausage to the recipe, or capers or olives; I might douse the chicken with a splash of vinegar; sometimes I cut up a whole chicken, other times I’ll split little poussins or Cornish hens. (You can see what experiments have worked well if you look through my previous books.)

This recipe, though, gives you Erminia’s classic formula — chicken, small potatoes, a bit of onion, and fresh rosemary — with two of my latest twists: pickled cherry peppers and bacon strips, in bite-sized rolls. Cherry peppers are plump golf-ball-sized antipasto peppers in vinegar that you’ll find in jars on the pickle shelves of the supermarket. They come in sweet and hot varieties — and the latter are explosive, if you take just a bite. But when they’re seeded, sliced, and added sparingly to the chicken, they imbue the dish with a mellow heat that I love. If you and your family are hot heads, cut up two or more peppers; otherwise slice only one, or use the sweet cherry peppers and see how you like that. Then we roll bacon slices into little bundles, pin each one closed with a toothpick, and caramelize them along with the chicken. The bacon fat slowly renders and lends the meat a layer of flavor that’s picked up by the potatoes and onions too. By the end of cooking, the rolls have turned into crisp morsels that are a treat to eat with the juicy chicken and tender potatoes. (But be sure to remove all the toothpicks!)–Lidia Matticchio Bastianich