Vinegar Glossed Chicken
This dish has been in heavy rotation in our home as a favorite weeknight dinner option for at least twenty-five years. Originally made from an Italian recipe of unknown origin, it has morphed into our own, though my husband and I each make it a little differently. This much is certain, however: when the rosemary vinegar is added to the pan of golden browned chicken, alchemy occurs as the vinegar deglazes those brown bits and reduces itself into a syrup. It permeates each chicken piece with an agrodolce (sweet-and-sour) flavor. There's no better accompaniment than polenta, soft and loose or firm and sliced. It's a heavenly combination of textures and flavors. (Rice, pasta, or bread will also work, as long as there is something to sop up the sauce.) Like many of the dishes here, it only improves when made in advance.
- 1 cup best-quality red-wine vinegar
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (about 1 tablespoon minced)
- 5 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (each part should be cut in half)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
- At least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours before cooking, combine the vinegar, garlic, and rosemary to marinate.
- Thoroughly season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat a 14-inch skillet (or two smaller skillets) over high heat and swirl in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down. Don’t crowd the chicken; leave space around each piece. Work in batches if necessary. You should hear an immediate sizzle when the chicken pieces hit the pan. Don’t move them; it takes a couple of minutes to sear the chicken so it doesn’t stick. Brown all sides; this will take 10 minutes per batch. Regulate the heat so it stays high but does not burn the chicken. Place all the browned chicken back in the skillet.
- Add the chicken broth and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat, simmer, and reduce for 15 to 20 minutes. Increase the heat to high and pour in the vinegar mixture. Swirl the pan and stir around as the vinegar evaporates to form a simmering glaze, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate, and reheat with some extra broth.
Polenta: A staple of northern Italian cooking, polenta is boiled cornmeal. It's traditionally slow-cooked and requires constant stirring. But the modern-style instant polenta that's readily available at grocery stores works better for time-pressed home cooking. Once cooked, polenta firms up as it cools, so it can be shaped or molded and then sliced and reheated at mealtime. Pour the loose hot polenta into a greased loaf plan, smooth the top with a spoon, cover, and chill. When ready to serve, slice the polenta, panfry the slices in olive oil, or warm them in the oven or microwave. The hot polenta also can be poured into a greased rimmed baking sheet, spread evenly, covered, and chilled. When it is set, it can be cut into shapes with round, square, or diamond shaped biscuit cutters. Many stores also carry a premade log of polenta, in the dairy case, ready to be sliced and heated.
Photo by Mikkel Vang