Chicken Stemperata: Stemperata di Pollo
The basic combination of olives, carrots, other vegetables, mint and hot pepper is a dressing for tuna and rabbit in traditional Sicilian cooking. This recipe from Mario Batali replaces the rabbit with chicken. Stimparata (or Stemperata) means “stamped,” referring to the way the olives were split open. For this task, use an empty Pellegrino bottle. Line up a dozen olives on the kitchen counter and work along, smashing them with the bottom of the bottle, removing the pit and placing them into a bowl with the other vegetables. Use very firm large Sicilian olives such as Cerignola. You really can’t find large pitted Cerignola olives so use the “stamping” process to pit them (the normal process of rolling an olive under a knife to pit them won’t work with these olives).
This recipe serves 4 and is quite good the next day when reheated.
Ingredients and Directions:
- 1 medium chicken, cleaned and cut into 8 serving portions, and breast cut in 2 pieces; reserve backbone and giblets for stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Good quality olive oil
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
- 2 red, yellow, or orange peppers, cored, seeded and cut into medium strips
- 1 stick celery, cut into large pieces
- 2 small unpeeled eggplants, cut into large cubes
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
- 2 tablespoons salt packed capers, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup whole Sicilian olives (the large green variety)
- 4 canned plum tomatoes, cut into large pieces along with their juices
- Pinch chile flakes
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1/4 bunch each fresh chopped mint leaves and parsley leaves
Wash the cut up chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil until hot but not smoking. Carefully add the chicken pieces (in batches if necessary) and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate to collect the juices.
In the pan with the chicken drippings, add the potatoes, peppers, celery, eggplant, carrot, capers, olives, tomatoes and chile flakes. Toss together to coat with the drippings. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Add enough additional water to barely cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to a medium-low and cook for about 45 minutes until the firmest vegetables (potatoes and carrots) are close to tender. Remove the lid and add the chicken and simmer until cooked through and the sauce has reduced.
Remove from the heat and stir in chopped mint and parsley. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.