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Perfect Chicken Vesuvio Recipe

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Learn how to make perfect Chicken Vesuvio

Learn how to make perfect Chicken Vesuvio

Is Chicken Vesuvio Scorching Hot?

When I told my husband that I was preparing a new dish, Chicken Vesuvio, his little geologist mind immediately thought of the smoldering flanks of Mount Vesuvius, molten lava and pyroclastic debris spewing thousands of miles—in other words, hot stuff. Is this Italian chicken dish a candidate for Man vs. Food? No, not at all. Allow me to explain.

So, What Is It, Really?

Chicken Vesuvio is a Chicago specialty, an Italian-American dish of succulent chicken on the bone, pan-roasted potatoes, herbs, an ample amount of fragrant sweet garlic and a buttery wine sauce. No one knows when or where the dish originated, but it's so popular that everyone wants that claim to fame. Some suggest it might have been popularized by the Vesuvio Restaurant in the 1930s. Other food historians have suggested that variants of this dish can be found in southern Italy. However, the where isn't really important; let's learn how to make it.

What Are the Components?

Meat

Of course, there is chicken. The original dish uses skin-on, bone-in cuts (usually thighs or legs), and there's a good reason for that. The dish is oven-roasted; dark meat can stand up to that method of cooking. Subject lean chicken breast to the same treatment and it will turn dry and flavorless.

Potatoes

There are three basic types of potatoes—waxy red potatoes, multi-purpose Yukon golds, and the Idaho russet baking potato. You could use any of those in this dish, but I believe that the very best is the Yukon gold. Waxy red potatoes keep their shape but never attain the creamy interior you desire in an oven-roasted potato. Russets are the perfect baking potato but take longer to achieve that fluffy interior. The Yukon gives us the best of both worlds—it keeps its shape, cooks in a shorter amount of time, and gets crisp on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.

Vegetables

The traditional veggie addition to Chicken Vesuvius is green peas. A few cooks substitute artichoke hearts, but I don't like their gray-green color. Mushrooms sound like a reasonable addition, but they act like little sponges, sopping up every ounce of luscious sauce. I recommend sticking with the traditional pop of color offered by frozen green peas.

Yield: 2 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 small- to medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 6 garlic cloves cut in half
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • minced fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start with a large (12-inch or more) saute pan that has a lid and is oven safe. Add the olive oil to the pan and heat on your stovetop; adjust the heat to medium.
  3. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in the saute pan and cook, undisturbed for 4 minutes. Trust me; don't move them around. The chicken will develop a nice golden color on the skin side and will start to build up "fond" in the bottom of the pan. (Fond is the little bits that stick to the pan. Add acid to the pan to liquefy them and they will become part of the future sauce for your dish).
  4. After 4 minutes, flip the chicken thighs over and cook for another 3 minutes. No, they won't be cooked through. That will happen in the oven. Remove them from the pan to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Next, add the halved potatoes to the same pan. Start with the cut-side down. Flip after 4 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Cover the pan and cook 3-4 minutes more or until a knife can almost slip into each potato. They won't be "done" but will not be rock-hard. Remove from the pan and place them in the bowl with chicken.
  6. Add the garlic cloves to pan. Saute 2 minutes; just enough to color but not soften. That also will happen in the oven.
  7. At this point remove any remaining oil from the pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry white wine. Reduce by half (about 3 minutes). Return the chicken, potatoes, and garlic to the pan. Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Pour in 1 cup of chicken stock.
  8. Roast covered in the oven for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove the chicken and potatoes from the pan and set aside to keep warm. At this time I feel that I must caution you to wrap a kitchen towel or something around the handle of the saute pan to remind you that "this thing is stinking hot!"
  10. Mash/smash the whole garlic cloves into the liquid that remains in the pan. They should be extremely soft.
  11. Add the butter to the pan and swirl gently to blend the butter into the liquid left in the pan to make a sauce. Return the chicken and potatoes to the pan, top with the thawed peas. Cover with the lid for 3-4 minutes to warm the peas. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Chicken thighs have been browned on each side. They will finish cooking in the oven.

Chicken thighs have been browned on each side. They will finish cooking in the oven.

Yukon gold potatoes sliced in half vertically. One side has been sauteed. Look at that rich golden brown color.

Yukon gold potatoes sliced in half vertically. One side has been sauteed. Look at that rich golden brown color.

Whole garlic cloves in saute pan

Whole garlic cloves in saute pan

After the chicken and potatoes are roasted, the whole cloves of garlic are soft and creamy. Mash them into the pan juices to create a rich sauce.

After the chicken and potatoes are roasted, the whole cloves of garlic are soft and creamy. Mash them into the pan juices to create a rich sauce.

A perfect plate

A perfect plate

© 2020 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 26, 2020:

Liza, I'm glad that you found it (and me). I plan on making it again this weekend and taking more (better, I hope) photos.

Liza from USA on February 26, 2020:

This dish looks so good! It would be a perfect dish for a family dinner. I love the combination of the chicken and the potatoes. Thank you for sharing this great recipe, Linda.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 23, 2020:

Eiddwen, I think you are a new visitor. Welcome and thank you for your kind words. I will publish a new article tomorrow and Tuesday.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 23, 2020:

I am saving this one for sure to give it a try soon. Thank you for sharing and here's to many more.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 17, 2020:

Flourish, winner winner chicken dinner. Yes, my family wants it again.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 17, 2020:

This looks like a winner!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 16, 2020:

Sha, I'm definitely making this again very soon. This meal actually fed the 3 of us--my daughter and I each had one thigh and Mr. Carb had two (he's a hungry guy). I hope your son enjoys it.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Linda, this looks and sounds delicious. My son pretty much eats no meat but chicken and I think he would like this. He prefers boneless skinless breasts, but the fact that you remove the bone at the end will satisfy him. (For some reason he does not like chicken on the bone.)

I will definitely print this recipe and make it on a weekend. I even have all the ingredients on hand, with the exception of chix thighs.

And thank you for providing a recipe that serves two. How often do you see that?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 16, 2020:

Rochelle your guests will love it. When I saw this on America's Test Kitchen they used a large roasting pan. You could increase the amounts and do the same. I'm only cooking for three.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on February 16, 2020:

I think I can do this and I love recipes that spend 45 minutes in the oven by themselves while I tidy up the kitchen and make a salad. Perfect when you have guests. Looks and sounds delicious.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 16, 2020:

Louise, thank you for your comment. I regret that I used my phone and not my camera for these shots. Next time I make this (which will be soon) I'll re-shoot the pics.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 16, 2020:

Pamela, it is easy and I know that you can't spend much time on your feet. You could certainly do this in stages. The aroma of the roasting garlic is amazing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 16, 2020:

Bill, I'm sorry about your pea angst. I will allow you to fish the peas out of the dish and set them aside on your plate if that helps. Or you can just throw them at me.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 16, 2020:

I do like the sound of this recipe. I would definitely enjoy this. And the pictures are making my mouth water!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 16, 2020:

I have never had this dish but it looks delicious. It does not look to hard to cook either. Thanks for another delicious dish. I am keeping things simple today. I made beef vegetable soup, which is really good now in the cooler weather.

Have a good week, Linda.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 16, 2020:

I could just toss out the peas and everything would be honkey dorey! Is that how you spell that? Anyway, it sounds delicious except for those little round things which Mom made me eat and about which I built up a resentment over the years, causing much angst and leading to bed wetting and then . . .

Yep, I don't like peas. :)

Happy Sunday dear friend!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 16, 2020:

John, we eat so much chicken (and turkey) it's a wonder that the Carb Diva family hasn't sprouted feathers. With all that garlic and those gorgeous roasted potatoes how can you go wrong?

Next time I make this I think I'll increase the wine and broth to 1.5 cups each (and put in more whole garlic cloves) so that there is more sauce.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 16, 2020:

This looks and sounds delicious, Linda. Thank you for sharing.