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Pollastrello Arrosto con Passato di Pomodoro

(Pan-Roasted Baby Chicken with Tomato Passato)

Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica: Great Italian Recipes Made Easy for Home (Penguin Canada, $39)


A young, tender chicken — of the sort your butcher likely labels a broiler — lends itself particularly well to pan-roasting. When it is boned and pressed as described, its skin will be flawlessly crisp and its flesh supple and succulent. This makes a perfect roast for two — but of course, you can easily multiply the recipe to serve as many as you please. Serves 2

Ingredients
¼ c                  sugar (60 mL)            
1 Tbsp                        top-quality red wine vinegar (15 mL)
1 sprig            rosemary      
2 Tbsp            butter (30 mL)
1                      small chicken (about 2 ½ lb/1.25 kg)        
2 Tbsp            puréed tomato passato (30 mL) (see McEwan’s recipe from Fabbrica below)
3 Tbsp            olive oil (50 mL)       
1 Tbsp            fine olive oil (15 mL)
Salt and pepper

Method
PREHEAT oven to 325°F (160°C). COMBINE the sugar with an equal amount of water in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until completely dissolved. DIP the rosemary in the simple syrup and then PLACE it on a rack on a baking sheet. BAKE for 5 minutes and then set aside to DRY for about 2 hours.

PREHEAT oven to 375°F (190°C). BONE (or ask your butcher to bone) the chicken in such a way that the bird is halved and only the lower wing and leg bones (and not the thigh bones) remain. Slash the leg ¼ inch (5 mm) deep 3 times on each side (optional). MASSAGE the bird with half of the olive oil and season it generously. HEAT a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. ADD the chicken halves skin side down, place a second, smaller skillet (or a brick) on top to weight them down, and SEAR until bronzed, about 7 minutes. TRANSFER the weighted bird to the oven and ROAST for 10 minutes. REMOVE the weight, flip the halves and BASTE. RETURN to the oven until fully cooked, about another 5 minutes. TRANSFER to two warm serving plates (or a warm platter). POUR off any excess fat from the skillet and place it over medium-high heat. DEGLAZE the pan with the vinegar and then STIR in the butter until melted. SEASON lightly and POUR the sauce around the chicken. DAB each half of the bird with the passato and then CRUMBLE rosemary leaves over top. DRIZZLE with the fine olive oil and SERVE.

Tomato Passato
Makes about 1 cup (250 mL)

Ingredients
12                    Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 Tbsp                        olive oil (15 mL)
1 Tbsp                        combined minced parsley, rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper

Method
PREHEAT oven to 175°F (80°C). Arrange the tomatoes cut side up and well spaced out on a rack on a baking sheet. SPRINKLE with the olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper. BAKE for 12 hours. PEEL the tomatoes, TRANSFER to a food processor and BUZZ briefly — a textured purée is more appealing than a completely smooth one.



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