Illinois cuisine as a whole falls within the midwestern cuisine spectrum and features hearty, simple meals, with Germanic influences, reflecting the origins of many of the early settlers in the state. This contrasts with the vibrant and varied cuisine of Illinois' main city, Chicago, where immigrants from Italy, Greece, Puerto Rico and other places contributed to the creation of unique dishes. Many of these originated in the city's restaurants, most famous of all Chicago's deep-dish pizza - a favorite of mine, but one that seemed too much of a challenge to create at home. Instead, I settled for making another Chicagoan restaurant specialty:
Chicken Vesuvio, a hearty dish of chicken and potatoes braised in a simple wine sauce and brightened with lemon juice, has been a Chicagoan institution for almost a century. Once upon a time, it was served in practically every restaurant and deli in the city, from corner delis to fine dining joints. Even today it stars at Italian restaurants throughout the city.
It's not hard to see why. It's a simple dish at its core, but thoroughly satisfying and delicious. It can also be easily modified into a house specialty by the addition of extra ingredients. It's also extremely easy for a home cook to make.
The original recipe called for fresh herbs, an use them if you have them, but dried herbs worked well.
- 4 lbs chicken parts
- kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
- 6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 lb russet potatoes, cleaned
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 fresh sprigs of oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 fresh sprigs of thyme or 1 tsp dried
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pat dry chicken and season with salt & pepper.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan or cast-iron skillet. Working in batches, sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown. Remove chicken and set aside.
Cut potatoes into wedges 1/8" thick.
Add 3 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan you used to brown the chicken and heat over medium heat. Add the potato wedges, cut side down. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 6 minutes. Turn and cook again for another 6 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside
Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic cloves, and saute for 30 seconds. Add thyme, oregano and white and bring to a simmer.
Place potato wedges on the pan in a single layer. Top with the chicken, skin side up. Brush the chicken with remaining olive oil and season with salt. Sprinkle Italian seasoning all over the chicken.
Roast in the oven until chicken and potatoes are cooked through, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, defrost the peas. Zest and juice the lemon.
Remove pan from the oven. Add the peas. Rest for 10 minutes. Pour the lemon juice on the chicken and top with lemon zest and chopped parsley.
Adapted from Jeff Mauro's recipe at Food Network
Cuisines from other states: American, Alabamian, Arizonan,Californian, Connecticuter, Delawarean, Floridian, Hawaiian, Idahoan, Illinoisan, Kansan
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