This recipe holds a special place in my heart. It was a very common second course in many “agriturismi” during my childhood (the 90s), and its deep smell reminds me of those wonderful ol’ days.
Unfortunately, many agriturismi “evolved” (note the quotation, I wouldn’t really call it an evolution at all) from simple home made cheap old farm taverns to high level classy expensive restaurants, ditching many of the old traditional (and lovely) food for gourmet style recipes that most of the times have nothing (or very little) to do with our culinary tradition. If you add to that they reduced portions and raised prices, I think you can totally understand, if not share, my point of view.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to push cuisine to new boundaries. However, I believe it’s fairly important not to forget the old comfort cuisine that made Italy so famous around the world.
Where to find the right ingredients in the U.S.
Recipes are only as good as the quality of the ingredients used, so here are some of our recommendations for difficult to find ingredients in the U.S.
Tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro) One thing I notice about a lot of American tomato sauces is that they are a little too acidic, and to me that often throws off the flavor of tomato-based dishes, or it requires balancing the acidity with sugar (I try to avoid adding sugar whenever possible). American tomato sauces also tend to come in cans rather than jars, and often have additives. We always use Mutti passata in Italy, and you can find it in the U.S. at World Market or Amazon.
Juniper berries (le bacche di ginepro) Perhaps you’ll have an easier time locating juniper berries at your local grocery store, but I searched all over my hometown and couldn’t find any anywhere. I ended up bringing some back from Italy, but you can also order juniper berries online from Amazon if you can’t find them locally.
Pinot Grigio While you could use any wine that you prefer, (we actually used up some red wine we had on hand while making this recipe). We still recommend a nice white like Pinot Grigio from the Veneto region. I have even found a nice, inexpensive Pinot Grigio at Target or Trader Joe’s.
Pollo in umido takes several hours to come together, but it’s worth it especially to warm you up on a cool day. You can even make enough to have leftovers for risotto to make the cooking time worth several meals.
- 3 chicken drumsticks (1 per person)
- 3 chicken thighs (1 per person)
- 2 branches of rosemary
- 6 juniper berries
- 3 sage leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of white wine
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 legs of celery chopped
- 1 carrot (or two small carrots) chopped
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 2 cups of tomato sauce
- 1 cup of water or chicken stock
- Marinate the chicken drumsticks and thighs in the herb, garlic, wine and olive oil mixture for 1.5-2 hours.
- Brown the chicken in a pan.
- Meanwhile, in another pot, sauté the the diced onion, carrots, and celery until golden. Then, add the wine and herbs from the marinade and let the wine reduce.
- Add the tomato sauce to the pot and bring it to a boil and then add the chicken along with its rendered fat from the pan.
- Return the tomato sauce to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 1.5-2 hours, turning the chicken pieces from time to time.
- The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 75 degrees Celsius. When you insert a toothpick, the chicken shouldn't release any more liquid.
- Serve with steamed potatoes or a side of your choice.
- White wine is preferred, but you may use red if that's what you have on hand.
- Cut one of the rosemary branches into little pieces and put it under the chicken skin.
- We used a traditional clay pot; however, you could just as well use a regular large aluminum or stainless steal pot. Just make sure to keep enough liquid in the pot and add water as needed.
- This recipe could probably be adapted for a crock pot as long as you sauté the vegetables, reduce the wine, and brown the chicken over the stovetop first. Try cooking the chicken on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Let us know if you try this recipe with a crock pot, and let us know what adaptations you made!