Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9th - Lemon Oregano Roast Chicken and Potatoes

Return of Vesuvio
One of my first kitchen jobs while I was in culinary school, was working in an Italian restaurant.  It was (it's no longer in business) a cute little place (that was also haunted, but I'll talk about that some other time).  The consultant they had, Ron, was this true Italian guy who knew a lot about food and the restaurant business (I think he may have been a friend of the family?).  He was awesome.  I learned so much about cooking from him.  

Anyway, we used to make Chicken Vesuvio all the time.  For those of you that don't know, Chicken Vesuvio is chicken, potatoes, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and usually white wine that is all roasted/baked.  This dish is not an authentic Italian dish...for the longest time, I thought it was.  The beginnings of chicken vesuvio are thought to be from a restaurant right here in Chicago in the 1930's.   This recipe today reminds me a lot of chicken vesuvio and takes me back to that tiny haunted kitchen. Ahhh memories...

Of course, we made the vesuvio a little different at the restaurant.  We took olive oil, heated it in a pan, and added some garlic.  You then take pieces of chicken lightly floured (add some salt and pepper to the flour) and brown those in your pan on all sides.  Once the chicken is brown, you add your par-boiled potatoes and oregano.  Then you add some white wine & chicken broth (only half way up the chicken) to deglaze.  We'd add a couple of slices of lemon too.   Bring it to a boil, then throw it in the oven (350) to finish cooking (15-20 minutes). Once out, adjust the seasonings and add a huge handful of grated parmesan cheese. That's it.  Real simple. 

The Recipe

Olive oil: had
Garlic: had
Oregano, dried: had
Potatoes: $1.29
Chicken: $4.39
Lemons: $0.99

Total: $6.67

I ended up getting a really good deal on chicken leg quarters.  I got like 8 lbs for $4.50 (it was like some ridiculous sale price of  59 cents a pound).  I figured I could use half for the recipe and freeze the other half.  I'm a leg and thigh man myself.  Breasts usually don't do it for me. 

I used red pototoes for this recipe and left the skin on. 


Fast:  Compared to recipes in the past, this isn't fast at all.  Cutting up a whole chicken may take you a little while (10-20 minutes depending on your skill level).  Prep will take you about 10 minutes.  The roasting is a minimum of 1 hour.  The leg/thighs I did took about an hour.  So you looking at 1 hour 30 minutes or more to get this complete from start to finsh.

Easy:  Cutting up a whole chicken takes practice.  It's all about knowing where to cut and breaking the joints.  If you don't do it very often, this can be quite difficult and frustrating.  If you'd like to learn, you can look it up on youtube, check out Alton Brown's DVD's, or even read Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Otherwise, this recipe is throw together and bake.

Fresh:  I added some peas to it (in true Vesuvio fashion).  Chopped parsley will give it a kick of fresh as well. 

Overall:  This is a really good recipe.  It's great for a make ahead meal.  You can get the chicken and potatoes marinating a head of time and keep it in the fridge.   (I would keep the potatoes and chicken seperate just in case..you don't want to worry about getting anyone sick).  If you want, you can add a splash of wine or lemon slices to the chicken and potatoes right before you add it to the oven.   (Don't add it too the marinade, it'll discolor the potatoes).  Otherwise, just stick to the recipe and you'll have a great meal in no time.  Can't say enough good stuff about this.  It was super yummy!!

Tomorrow is a Thai Salad!  Yumm... And maybe a ghost story?

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