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Chicken Vesuvio

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Why I Love This Recipe

Yet another recipe culled from the archives of Cook's Illustrated. This Italian-American dish came out of Chicago in the '30s, to the best of my recollection, and it's a really great way to make a bright, pungent meal out of a chicken and some potatoes. Can't have roast chicken all the time!

Ingredients You'll Need

* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 lbs), giblets and wings discarded; chicken cut into 8 pieces (2 each of thighs and drumsticks, with breast cut into quarters)
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
* 3 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 oz each), peeled and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges about 3/4" thick)
* 2 1/2 tbsp minced or pressed garlic (8 to 12 medium cloves)
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 2 sprigs fresh oregano
* 2 sprig fresh thyme
* 1 sprig fresh rosemary
* 2 tbsp juice from 1 lemon
* 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (8 quart is a good size) over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering, but not smoking, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, thoroughly pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle pieces with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Place chicken pieces skin-side down in single layer in pot and cook without moving them until uniformly golden brown and crisp, 4 to 6 minutes (if chicken is browning too quickly, reduce heat). Reduce heat to medium; using tongs, turn chicken pieces over and cook until uniformly golden brown and crisp on second side, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Transfer chicken, skin-side up, to prepared baking sheet.

3. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pot.

Add potatoes, arranging them in a single layer with one flat side of each wedge against bottom of pot; cook until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and turn potatoes; cook until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes to baking sheet with chicken.

4. Remove pot from burner and cool 2 minutes. Add all but 1 tsp garlic and cook, using the pot's residual heat, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds; add wine, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

Return chicken pieces skin-side up to pot, then arrange potatoes on top.

5. Bake uncovered 10 minutes; using tongs, rearrange so chicken is on top of potatoes and facing skin-side up.

Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken breast pieces registers 160 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes longer; remove breast pieces to serving dish and tent loosely with foil.

Return pot with thighs, drumsticks, and potatoes to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Arrange chicken and potatoes in serving dish; discard herb stems.

Stir in remaining 1 tsp garlic and lemon juice into liquid in pot; pour sauce over chicken and potatoes, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Feel free to use either all dark meat or all white meat.

Just make sure you use and equal weight of either and adjust the cooking time accordingly. If using a Le Creuset dutch oven, heat the oil for an extra minute (the enamel-covered cast iron needs a little longer to get up to heat). Make sure the oil is hot enough before frying the chicken, otherwise the skin will stick to the pan and not the chicken.

And make sure you rotate the chicken during oven cooking; this way it starts off in the sauce to soak up the flavor, then it sits on top of the potatoes, out of the sauce, so the skin can crisp up again.

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