Way back when I worked at an Italian restaurant that was a mix between classic Italiano, hearty comfort food and haut cuisine, and one of our most popular dishes was Country Style Chicken. I never understood it. Why come to a restaurant where you can have some truly special, not easily replicated at home food made with exotic ingredients, and order chicken on the bone with sausage and peppers!? Then one day I finally had it, and wow… Sometimes good ‘ole hearty comfort food can really put haut cuisine on its ass!
After that mind altering experience I used to make the dish somewhat regularly… then I stopped. I guess I just got bored with it. Maybe too much of a good thing? I dunno. It’s probably been at least 7 years since I’ve made it. Anyway, the other day we had some chicken breast and sausage in the fridge and my wife said “why don’t you make that chicken country you used to do?”.
Great idea honey!
Then I botched it up… totally forgot the right way to make it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. I knew I could do it better! So back to the store I went for more sausage and some chicken on the bone (forget that wimpy boneless breast stuff… who needs healthy!?), and it was on. Round two!
The second time around, I hit the darn ball out of the park.
So here’s my recipe for this good ‘ole hearty down home warm your soul rustic comfort food. Trust me, it’s easy, delicious, and you need to make this dish for your friends and family!
3c Potatoes, diced
1/2c All Purpose Flour
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tsp Garlic Powder
48oz Canola Oil (for frying)
Ingredients (chicken + everything else):
4lb Chicken on the bone
1lb Sausage, cut into chunks (hot or sweet depending on preference)
1 Large White Onion, sliced
2 Red Bell Pepper, julienne
1 Green Bell Pepper, julienne
8oz Mushrooms, sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2tbsp Olive Oil
2tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
2 1/2tsp Salt
2 1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Garlic Powder
1/2c Chicken Stock
2tbsp Grated Parmesan
Heat your oven to 400F.
Pour the canola oil into a large, heavy bottomed, pot and bring to 350F.
Note: Chances are you don’t have a sauté pan that can accommodate FOUR POUNDS of chicken at one time so you’ll have to do it in batches, and I’m going to write the recipe as such. If you do have a sauté pan large enough… congrats, you get to cook all the chicken at one time. lol
Combine 1tsp each of salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika, and evenly season your chicken. Heat 2tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan at medium high and add half of your chicken skin side down, cook until lightly browned then flip and repeat. Place the browned chicken in a 9×13″ baking dish, then repeat the prior step for the remainder of the chicken. Do not pour out the oil and drippings from the sauté pan when you transfer the chicken to the baking dish, you’ll need that! Using the same sauté pan, with oil/drippings, add the chunks of sausage and cook at medium high until lightly browned, then add them to the baking dish with the chicken. Once again, do not pour out the oil/drippings, you’ll need those to cook the vegetables. Turn off the stovetop and set the pan to the side for now. Add the chicken stock to the baking dish and sprinkle the chicken and sausage with the chopped rosemary. Cover the dish with foil then put it in the oven at 400F for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the flour and seasoning from the potatoes section, then add your diced potatoes and coat thoroughly. You’ll want to fry the potatoes in two or three batches, depending on the size pot you’re using. There are a few reasons for the smaller batches, as compared to just dumping it all in at once… First and foremost if you put too much in at once it will reduce the temperature of the oil and leave you with a greasy end product. It also helps keep the potatoes from sticking together, and promotes more even cooking. Shake off any excess flour and carefully add the potatoes to the oil. Cook until golden brown, approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring periodically. After each batch is done frying use a slotted spoon to place the fried potatoes on a towel lined plate to allow any excess oil to drain. Keep at room temperature.
When the chicken and sausage has about 10 minutes left put the previously used sauté pan with all of its flavorful dripping glory back on medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, then add the onions, garlic and peppers, as well as 1/2tsp each of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the chicken and sausage are done, stirring periodically.
Once the chicken and sausage have finished baking remove them from the oven and plate them up. Turn the heat off on the sautéing vegetables, add the fried potatoes and grated parmesan to the pan and toss well. Spoon the vegetables over the chicken and sausage, including some of the drippings… That’s it, you’re done! Hearty, super flavorful, rustic, comfort food deliciousness that will warm your heart, soul and stomach!
Now let’s talk wine pairings. When I think about rustic dishes like this my mind automatically turns to places like Piemonte, Rioja and the Rhone Valley… so that’s exactly where we’re going!
Hermanos de Peciña Crianza 2009, Rioja, Spain – The Crianza is a blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano and 2% Garnacha aged for two years in neutral American oak, and an additional two years in bottle. In the glass is a medium to full bodied wine of deep garnet hue. The bouquet reveals aromas of black cherry, cassis, fennel frond and subtle potpourri. On the palate are distinct notes of ripe cherry, blackberry and tart bramble fruit, as well as nuances of leather and nutmeg, with beautifully integrated acidity and soft tannins giving balance and backbone. Truly a beautiful wine and an unbelievable value. PP Score: 91 (Retail $18-22) For more information on Peciña and this particular wine see my article here.
Roagna Langhe Rosso 2008, Piemonte, Italy – Roagna is a fourth generation winery with holdings in the communes of Barbaresco and Barolo. Their Langhe Rosso is 100% Nebbiolo from their younger vines found in the sites of Pira (Barolo) and Paje (Barbaresco), both considered Cru plots. Whereas most producers release their Langhe’s young, Roagna ages theirs as long or longer than their Barolo’s and Barbaresco’s… with the 2008 spending nearly 4 years in cask and an additional 1 year in bottle before release. In the glass is a medium to full bodied wine of light garnet hue with subtle rust tones along the edges. On the nose are aromas of dried cherry, anise, rose petal and sweet pipe tobacco. The palate mirrors the nose, with additional nuances of leather and cedar box, framed by subtle acidity and moderate, yet well integrated, tannins giving balance and backbone. An outstanding offering that in a blind tasting would easily be confused for a Barolo that retails at three times the cost. A tremendous value. PP Score: 94 (Retail $30-35) *Practicing Organic
Piaugier Côtes du Rhône Rouge La Grange 2013, Rhone, France – Piaugier is a small producer primarily located in and around the village of Sablet (with additional small holdings in Gigondas) currently run by a husband and wife team that is extraordinarily humble and sweet. The Côtes du Rhône Rouge La Grange is their entry level offering made from a blend that is predominantly Grenache, as well as small amounts of Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan. In the glass you’ll find a medium bodied wine of ruby hue with purple edging. On the nose are aromas of cherry, cassis, dried herbs and cracked peppercorn. The palate opens with notes of dark cherry and tart bramble fruit with moderate acidic presence, transitioning into slightly spicy, earthy, herbal middle, finally leading into a lush finish of macerated fruit and pantry spice, rounded out by chewy tannins. A pleasant offering for the price point. PP Score: 88 (Retail $11-13) *Practicing Organic
Ok, so that’s it. My rustic chicken recipe and my recommended wine pairings. I hoped you enjoyed the read, and I certainly hope you’ll try the recipe and the wines! As always, new content is en route… In the meantime crack open a bottle of rustic esoteric red, sit back, and relax. Life if short, enjoy it.