If you’ve never smothered chicken, you really must! Smothered chicken with vinegar combines two of my favorite chicken recipes into one luscious, fall-off-the-bone dish. My mother’s 1971 edition of The Joy of Cooking is my oldest cookbook, and the most ragged, oil-splattered page is the one with the recipe for “smothered chicken”. Another of my trusty beloved old cookbooks is Marcella’s Italian Kitchen. For the past 20 years I have regularly made Marcella’s “Fricasseed Chicken with Vinegar.” Smothered chicken is the most tender chicken you will ever eat. Fricasseed Chicken with Vinegar is startlingly delicious due to the brilliant combination of garlic, rosemary, vinegar and anchovies. I had a hunch that I could take the best of each recipe and reach new heights. I hope you are as thrilled with the results as I am, when you taste “smothered chicken with vinegar.”
Let’s put it on the table about anchovies. They are not universally beloved. I’ve actually seen people shudder at the sight of them. Admittedly, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like whole anchovy filets staring at me from the top of my Caesar salad. But over the years I’ve come to appreciate their powerful flavor-enhancing properties. Anchovies are a wonderful, magical secret ingredient in cooking – secret because you don’t have to see them or even know that they are present, but you’re likely to be wowed by the way they bring out the savory flavor, known as “umami,” in a recipe. Marcella Hazan says, in her book The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: “Of all the ingredients used in Italian cooking, none produces headier flavor than anchovies…Chopped anchovy dissolving into the cooking juices of a roast divests itself of its explicit identity while it contributes to the meat’s depth of taste…”
One thing that I have to mention about this recipe that I think you’ll enjoy is the incredible aroma that fills the kitchen when you sauté the rosemary, garlic and anchovies. It’s memorable. Oh, and one more important note – this dish cries out for mashed potatoes to soak up the delicious gravy. Enjoy!
- 4½ lbs chicken parts with bones, skin removed (I use 4 breasts and 6 thighs)
- ¾ cup seasoned flour (3/4 cup flour,1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper)
- 3-6 tablespoons cooking oil, to brown the chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a few grinds of fresh pepper
- Olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
- 8 flat anchovy fillets, finely chopped (from a tin of flat anchovies in olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- 5-6 stalks celery, thinly sliced (2 cups)
- 1½ - 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (2 cups)
- 2 small carrots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 1½ cups chicken broth (I recommend Swanson's low salt)
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Brown the chicken Put seasoned flour in a large plastic ziplock bag. Add chicken pieces. Close the bag and shake vigorously to coat chicken. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, until hot. Shake off excess flour and brown the chicken 4-5 pieces at time for about 3 minutes per side, until they are golden brown. Add more oil, if needed. (regulate the heat so the flour doesn't burn) Transfer browned pieces to a heavy casserole or dutch oven with a lid. Sprinkle browned chicken with ½ teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Sauté the aromatics Pour off fat from the skillet and wipe it out or wash it, so there is no flour residue. Return the skillet to the stove and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovies, garlic, and rosemary and cook, stirring, for a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet. Add celery, onions and carrots. Cook for 10-12 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown. Turn off heat. Return anchovy mixture to the skillet and stir to combine with the vegetables. Spoon contents of skillet evenly over the browned chicken in the large pot. Combine chicken broth and vinegar in a small pot and heat just to boiling. Pour heated broth and vinegar over chicken.
- Cover and bake in the middle of preheated oven for 1½ hours until tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice.