Forgive me for my brief absence, dear readers. My husband had an art opening in Wichita this weekend, so I was unable to experiment in the kitchen. I did miss it, though, and got right to it on Sunday night. However, that night was a simple dinner of pan seared chicken breasts with a light salad (I wanted something easy).
But last night…last night was a different story. See, the weather in Wichita was lovely while we were visiting – in the 60’s, sunny, with a light breeze – but Omaha, well, Omaha was straight up winter when we arrived home. Bitterly cold with an unforgiving wind that blew right through me.
For whatever reason, chicken was on the menu again. But I wanted something heartier than a chicken breast with salad. I wanted something braised, with a sauce, on polenta. I wanted a rich, warming dish perfect for a winter’s night. Chicken Canzanese it was.
Canzano is a small hamlet in the Abruzzo region of Italy. On a map, it would be located in the mid-calf area of the country. The dish is absolutely delicious, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s flavored with prosciutto, garlic, white wine, sage, rosemary, clove, and red pepper flakes, and braised in the oven for a solid hour.
I chose to use chicken thighs for this version, but I’m sure it would be equally good with a whole cut-up chicken, chicken breasts, or even turkey breasts or thighs (though I would imagine you’d have to increase cooking time). The sauce is absolutely so wonderful that I could see it going well with fish or Cornish hens, as well.
The only other notation I’ll make is that if you can’t find prosciutto, feel free to use bacon as a substitute. I made some polenta to go under the chicken, but I could see noodles as a nice substitute, as well.
I only used six chicken thighs, as there were only two of us dining. We have leftovers (which I love). If you are serving more than three people, feel free to up the amount of chicken thighs to eight.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 ounces prosciutto (or bacon), roughly chopped
5 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin lengthwise
6 bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and skin
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade chicken broth, and I urge you to do the same)
4 whole cloves
2 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
12 whole fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325ºF. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovensafe skillet over medium heat until just shimmering. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown. Add garlic slices and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden, about 1 1/2 minutes. Do not burn garlic, it can happen quickly.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic and prosciutto to a small bowl and set aside. Do not rinse skillet.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with ground black pepper. Increase heat to medium-high; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until barely smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until well-browned, 5-8 minutes. (Waiting is the hardest part.)
Using tongs, turn chicken and brown on other side, about 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate.
Measure out 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, reserve, and discard the rest. Add oil back to pan and sprinkle flour over oil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add wine and stock; bring to a simmer, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to loosen all the yummy browned bits.
Cook until liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Stir in cloves, 1 whole rosemary sprig, sage leaves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and reserved prosciutto and garlic. Nestle chicken into liquid, skin side up, and bake, uncovered until meat offers no resistance when poked with a fork, but is not yet falling off the bone, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Check chicken after 15 minutes to make sure liquid is barely bubbling. If bubbling vigorously, turn down oven temperature to 300ºF.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to serving platter and tent with foil. Remove and discard sage leaves, rosemary sprig, cloves, and bay leaves. Strip leaves from second rosemary sprig and finely mince.
Place skillet over high heat and bring sauce to a boil. Cook until sauce is reduced, about 2-5 minutes. Off heat, stir in minced rosemary, lemon juice, and butter. Season to taste with kosher salt and more fresh cracked black pepper.
I served my chicken on a bed of polenta with the sauce drizzled over and it was absolutely perfect for a winter’s night. Enjoy!