There as many ways of making Pollo Agrodolce as there are good Sicilian cooks. What makes this dish so delicious is the ying and the yang of sweet and sour flavours. You can add almonds or pine nuts, some basil or mint instead of parsley. You can make it with red wine and red-wine vinegar. Some are spiked with saffron or anchovy, and some contain hints of orange-flower water. The constant through all of them has been the cooking down of vinegar and sugar until they infuse the meat and vegetables with their combined sweet but slightly sharp flavor. With all these tantalizing options this recipe should be tucked in your apron pocket.
|SICILIAN BRAISED CHICKEN (pollo agrodolce)
- 4 very large chicken thighs or a combination of chicken thighs and legs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- flour for dredging
- Olive oil plus a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil to finish the dish
- 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
- 1 rib celery, cut into small dice
- 1 carrot, cut into small dice
- 1 generous tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons good-quality white -wine vinegar (you may need a bit more , depending on the strength of your vinegar)
- ½ generous cup of white wine
- 1 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup raisins
- ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (if desired)
- 4 tbs. capers, preferably salt-packed Sicilian capers
- 1 few large sprigs of parsley, mint or basil
- Pat the chicken pieces dry and season them GENEROUSLY with salt and pepper, and dredge them lightly in flour, tapping off any excess.
- Heat a large saute pan fitted with a lid over medium-high heat and add a good splash of oil.
- When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces (in batches, if necessary), browning THEM VERY WELL on both sides.
- When browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Pour off all the fat from the pan.
- Turn the heat to medium low and toss a little more olive oil in - around 2-3 tablespoons.
- Add the onion, celery and carrot and sprinkle with a little salt.
- Saute until they're soft and fragrant, about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Add the sugar and vinegar to the pan and let it bubble for about one minute.
- Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them over in the vegetables once of twice to coat them
- Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, letting it boil until almost evaporated.
- Add the chicken stock and bay leaf, cover the pan, and simmer on low heat until the chicken is just about tender, 30 to 35 minutes turning the pieces once or twice during cooking.
- Add the raisins, capers and pine nuts if you are using them and simmer to blend the flavors about five minutes longer. The sauce should be reduced and thickened but still pourable. If If it looks too dry, add a splash of chicken stock or white wine. Taste for seasoning. It should have a nice balance between sweet and sour but not be too aggressive.
- Add more salt, pepper, a splash of vinegar, or a pinch of sugar to balance the flavours.
- Arrange the chicken on a large serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil.