While living in New York, I waited a table or two (thousand). I was fortunate enough to work at restaurants with amazing chefs and learned how to cook, in large part, from them. Louie Lanza made Chicken Scarpariello for the ‘specials’ board back in 1989, at Coastal Restaurant on Amsterdam, and I thought it was one of the best dishes I’d ever eaten. In all the years since then, I’ve never once seen it on a menu again.
Don’t know why I thought of the dish this week but I did. I scoured the internet for a recipe and none of the accompanying photos looked quite like the meal Lanza prepared. Most of them included red bell peppers and pepperoncini, which is what I ended up using. After the fact, I realized that Lanza had used pickled cherry peppers – tiny ones, he didn’t cut them – and you should, too.
To be honest, the girls thought this dish was too spicy even as they liked the tangy-ness. I used mild pepperoncinis but my girls look like the Children of the Corn and weren’t born with a single ethnic taste bud in their mouths, so I forgive them. They’ve been trying their whole young lives to adapt to my spicy cooking, but last night’s meal was too much.
That said, I’m going to make this again someday. Mild pickled cherry peppers should fix the spicy problem. Many versions of this recipe call for using the whole bird, a la chicken Cacciatore – country style. I preferred using cutlets instead. Serve over a bed of orzo tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper, and put sautéed spinach on the side. Don’t forget chewy, crusty bread.
3 T. olive oil
½ cup flour (for dredging)
2 lbs. chicken breasts, pounded and cut into cutlet-size pieces
salt and pepper
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
2 large garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
6-8 mild red cherry peppers
2 T. juice from the cherry pepper jar (the vinegar stuff)
2 t. lemon juice
2 T. Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 T. of olive oil on medium high. Pat the chicken cutlets dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour. Place in the pan and cook for about two minutes on each side (depending on thickness). Don’t overcook. Remove from pan.
Scrape the bottom of the pan and add the remaining T. of olive oil. Add red bell pepper and cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the white wine, chicken broth, cherry peppers, and cherry pepper juice, and cook until the sauce is reduced, about five minutes. Transfer the chicken back to the pan, cook through, and add the parsley.
Remember to serve over orzo, and use the bread to soak up some of that sauce.
Note: The photo is what I made last night – yours should look slightly different with the cherry peppers and there will be more sauce. I tweaked this recipe after the fact. Let me know how it turns out.
Recipes, Thursdays in the kitchen with Jo