I have been stumped trying to duplicate my family's chicken in wine dish for as long as I have been in the kitchen. No one remembers exactly how my Grandmother Saporito achieved that fabulous glazed chicken with the bones permeated with wine flavor. No amount of nostalgic recollecting or toying with ingredients could come close to the taste of hers. She butchered her own chickens and made her own wine, and I believe that accounts for the difference.
In another attempt at her recipe, I have created this chicken in wine dish, using free-range chicken, which I feel has better flavor and stands up over the long cooking process. Begin by marinating the chicken pieces in dry white wine for 2 days. Following this step will leave the meat with a rich wine taste after it is cooked¦but it still does not compare with Grandma's.
3 1/4 pounds small cut-up bone-in chicken, preferable free-range
2 2/4 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound onions, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed juniper berries
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Grinding of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Two days before cooking the chicken, place the pieces in a large glass or ceramic baking dish large enough to hold the pieces in a single layer. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the wine and the white vinegar over the chicken, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
When ready to cook, drain the chicken and dry the pieces well on paper toweling. Set them aside. Discard the wine-vinegar mixture.
In a large sauté pan large enough to hold all the pieces, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add the onions, and sauté until they become soft and translucent but not brown. Remove the onions to a dish. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and the chicken pieces skin-side down. Brown the chicken quickly on all sides. Return the onions to the pan, sprinkle the chicken with the juniper berries, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat and pour in the remaining 1 1/4 cups wine. Cover the pan and cook the chicken over low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking over low heat for another 20 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally.
Add the balsamic vinegar, raise the heat to medium, and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes. Serve the chicken with some of the pan juices.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA - BRINGING ITALY HOME by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2001.
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