Celebrating Mom This Mother's Day! By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes
In my family, favorite dishes are always being altered according to what is available in the market and what is the best in quality -- especially when I'm cooking. Family meals together are near and dear to my heart, and I am always looking for a reason to cook a big meal to share with my grandchildren, children and with Mother's Day just around the corner, my mother Erminia, who we all fondly call "Grandma."
Growing up, my brother and I loved our mother's Chicken & Potatoes, fried together in a big skillet so they're crisp and moist at the same time -- this was my mother's, or "Grandma's" specialty, and it was our favorite! This simple and delicious dish has now been passed down through the family, and my grandchildren are always asking me to make it. When I am at the stove -- and though I follow my mother's basic procedures -- I can't resist playing around with the recipe and adding my own flair to it. However, here I'm sharing her Classic Chicken & Potatoes recipe. Maybe you can make it for your mother this Mother's Day. And for something sweet, I have the perfect recipe that "Grandma" absolutely loves -- my Sweet Ricotta Dumplings with Strawberry Sauce. These delicate and creamy morsels sit beautifully in a crimson pool of fresh strawberry sauce.
So this Mother's Day, why not get into the kitchen with mom? Cooking, eating and laughing together is a wonderful way to celebrate your mom this Mother's Day and all year round. MY MOTHER'S CHICKEN AND POTATOES (WITH MY SPECIAL TOUCHES) From Lidia's Family Table Serves 4 or more For the Basic Chicken and Potatoes:
2- ½ pounds chicken legs or assorted pieces (bone-in)
½ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 pound red bliss potatoes, preferably no bigger than 2 inches across
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium-small onions, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 short branches fresh rosemary with plenty of needles
For My Special Touches -- Try Either or Both:
4 to 6 ounces sliced bacon (5 or 6 slices)
1 or 2 pickled cherry peppers, sweet or hot, or none -- or more! -- cut in half and seeded
Prepping and Browning the Chicken (and Bacon) and Potatoes:
Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off the excess skin and all visible fat. Cut the drumsticks from the thighs. If using breast halves, cut into two small pieces.
Make the bacon roll-ups: Cut the bacon slices in half crosswise and roll each strip into a neat, tight cylinder. Stick a toothpick through the roll to secure it; cut or break the toothpick so only a tiny bit sticks out (allowing the bacon to roll around and cook evenly.)
Pour the canola oil into the skillet and set it over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt on all sides. When the oil is very hot, lay the pieces in it, skin side down, and an inch or so apart -- watch out for oil spatters. Don't crowd the chicken: if necessary, fry it in batches, with similar pieces (like drumsticks) together.
Drop the bacon rolls into the oil around the chicken, turning and shifting them often. Let the chicken pieces fry in place for several minutes to brown on the underside, then turn and continue frying until they're golden brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes or more. Fry breast pieces only for 5 minutes or so, taking them out of the oil as soon as they are golden. Let the bacon rolls cook and get slightly crisp, but not dark. Adjust the heat to maintain steady sizzling and coloring; remove the crisped chicken pieces with tongs to a bowl.
Meanwhile, rinse and dry the potatoes; slice each one through the middle on the axis that gives the largest cut surface, then toss them with the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.
When all the chicken and bacon is cooked and out of the skillet, pour off the frying oil. Return the skillet to medium heat and put in all the potatoes, cut side down in a single layer, into the hot pan. With a spatula, scrape all the olive oil out of the mixing bowl into the skillet; drizzle over it a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Fry and crisp the potatoes for about 4 minutes to form a crust, then move them around the pan, still cut side down, until they're all brown and crisp, 7 minutes or more. Turn them over, and fry another 2 minutes to cook and crisp on their rounded skin sides. Cooking Everything Together:
Still over medium heat, toss the onion wedges and rosemary branches around the pan, in with the potatoes. If using cherry peppers, either hot or sweet, cut the seeded halves into ½-inch wide pieces and scatter them in the pan too.
Return the chicken pieces -- except breast pieces -- to the pan, along with the bacon rolls; pour in any chicken juices that have accumulated. Raise the heat slightly, and carefully turn and tumble the chicken, potatoes, and onion (and bacon and/or pepper juices), so they're heating and getting coated with pan juices -- but take care not to break the potato pieces. Spread everything out in the pan -- potatoes on the bottom as much as possible, to keep crisping up -- and cover.
Return the heat to medium, and cook for about 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, then uncover and tumble the pieces and potatoes (and bacon rolls) again. Cover, and cook another 7 minutes or so, adding the breast pieces at this point. Give everything another tumble. Now cook covered for 10 minutes more.
Remove the cover, turn the pieces again, and cook in the open skillet for about 10 minutes to evaporate the moisture and caramelize everything. Taste a bit of potato (or chicken) for salt, and sprinkle on more as needed. Turn the pieces now and then; when they are all glistening and golden, and the potatoes are cooked through, remove the skillet from the stove and -- as I do at home -- bring it right to the table. Serve portions of chicken and potatoes, or let people help themselves. SWEET RICOTTA DUMPLINGS WITH STRAWBERRY SAUCE
FromLidia Cooks from the Heart of ItalyMakes about 18 canederli, serving 6
3 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 6 cups)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice for the canederli