As many times as I’ve visited New Orleans, and as special as that city is to me personally, you’d think at some point I would’ve known about their thriving Sicilian community. But, nope. Had to read that one in a book. Chef Donald Link, NOLA native and one of my favorite cookbook authors, published this dish in his second book, Down South, as a classic example of the flavors and types of dishes you find from the fine Sicilian people of New Orleans.
It makes complete sense to me. The flavors are obviously and unmistakably Italian, but there’s a brash boldness to this dish that reminds you that the New Orleans spirit has definitely had its effect. It’s not the least bit subtle, but still quite balanced and intensely flavored. Matt and I raved over it.
I originally intended to follow this recipe to the letter, which calls for roasting the chicken with the sauce poured over in a 9×13” casserole. Unfortunately, my baking dish happens to have rather low sides, and I realized that it wouldn’t hold all the sauce without spilling it all over my oven floor. I think we can all agree that it just sucks when that happens, so as a preventive measure, I used my larger lasagana pan. It worked perfectly fine, but my chicken did cook a bit faster than the recipe stated it would. However, the sauce thickened as it should have, so I’d probably do it this way again.
I hope y’all enjoy this one! It’s ideal for a cold winter night – rich and hearty, and those strong flavors are so warming.
Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link
1 (3 ½ – 4 lb.) whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 rosemary branch
1 ¼ cups diced salami
1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups chicken stock
4 fresh bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large baking dish (I used a lasagna pan).
Add the onion to the skillet and cook in the rendered chicken fat, stirring, until brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, fennel, rosemary, salami, olives, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Pour in the wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock in batches and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves and lemon juice.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and roast in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. It should register 165 F when the chicken is done. Baste the chicken every 15-20 minutes with the sauce.
Discard the bay leaves and serve the chicken warm with plenty of sauce spooned over.