Larry said he wanted something with chicken for dinner, but he did not specify how he wanted it. The rest was up to me. So when I hear that, it means I go look things up in my massive culinary library to see what best suits my fancy at the time. This time, I came up with Italian chicken ortolano. Traditionally in Italy, this dish is made from guineas or pheasant or wild fowl, but chicken works very well too. From the best of my understanding of the Italian word ortolano, it means orchard worker or farmer, or from the vegetable patch. Good! It means cooking with a lot of fresh vegetables. I like that. I cook with a lot of vegetables all the time. I have been told many times that I am actually more European than American, and especially with how I cook and love to feed people. That works for me.
Chicken ortolano is a chicken and vegetable casserole or stew that is cooked in stages. The first stage is to cook the vegetables, then brown the chicken, and finally combine them together for a final cooking stage in the oven.
1/3 cup butter
6 TBSP olive oil
4-6 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade or chopped fine
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 celery stalks, diced
1 TBSP garlic
2 lbs chicken, cut into pieces – I used breasts, but you can use bone in chicken pieces too
1 cup dry white wine
8-10 pearl onions, peeled
1 large potato, cut into large pieces
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 cup pumpkin or squash, cut into large chunks
salt & pepper to taste
Coat the chicken pieces in salt and pepper and cook in a combination of the oil and butter. Cook until the chicken is browned on both sides, about 7-10 minutes per side.
At the same time, in a separate pan, cook the vegetables and potato in oil and butter as well. Cook until the vegetables are mostly tender, or about 10-15 minutes.
Add the wine, the sage and the thyme to the vegetables and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes, at a medium temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350* F or 180* C.
Spray a large baking pan with cooking oil.
Add the chicken to the coated baking dish, including the butter and oil. Pour the vegetable and potato mixture over the chicken and place the dish in the oven.
Roast for about 30 minutes or until the liquid is mostly evaporated and has thickened and the chicken and vegetables are completely cooked. Serve it up and enjoy with some fresh warmed bread and a glass or two of the same white wine you used to cook with. This dish is rustic Italian at its best. You’re going to love it. !Mangia!
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.