There are at least three explanations for why the Italians named this dish chicken scarpariello, or “shoemaker’s chicken.”
The first is that chicken bones may sometimes stick out of a diner’s mouth as he eats the dish—recalling a cobbler who holds tacks between his teeth as he works. The second refers to the fact that the various ingredients in this dish can be easily “cobbled” together. The third is a salute to a delicious and filling dish that even the family of a poor southern Italian shoemaker could afford.
I’ve been a fan of chicken scarpariello for years. Apparently there are several versions of it, but the one that makes my mouth water stars chicken thighs, sausages, hot pickled cherry peppers and vinegar. I’m always knocked out by the cozy way these ingredients play together. The chicken and sausages are rich. The vinegar and peppers—spicy and acidic—are perfect complements. Bake them all together in a large pan and marvel at the way they mingle with wine and broth to produce a super savory sauce.
And because you are using so many prepared ingredients (the peppers, artichokes and Italian sausage links), there’s really very little work to do. Just brown the chicken and sausage, and prep the onion and garlic. Ultimately, chicken scarpariello is a simple one-pan meal. If you don’t want to bother making the two side dishes I suggest below, you can easily get away with a tossed green salad and a loaf of crusty bread.
This recipe also happens to be quite adaptable. Don’t like dark-meat chicken? Substitute white meat. Not a fan of the peppers’ heat? Substitute roasted sweet red ones. Want to make the recipe leaner? Slice in turkey sausage instead of pork sausage. However you prepare it, this hearty meal will be a welcome treat at the start of fall.
Spicy Chicken and Sausage
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage links
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup sliced, drained banana peppers, pickled cherry peppers or pepperoncini
Chopped fresh basil or parsley, for garnish (optional)
Note: Serve with smashed potatoes (cooked with the skins on, then smashed and finished with hot milk and butter) and garlicky sauteed spinach.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof skillet or saute pan over high heat; quickly reduce to medium-high, add the sausages and cook for about four minutes total, turning them often until they are lightly browned on all sides. (They will not be cooked through.) Use tongs to transfer them to a platter.
3. Check the skin on each thigh, smoothing it or trimming any excess, as needed. Season each piece lightly with salt. Working in two batches, add the thighs to the pan, skin sides down. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until just the skin is crisped and golden brown. Use tongs to transfer the pieces, skin sides up, to a platter.
3. Discard all but two tablespoons of the fat from the skillet, stir in the onion and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about eight minutes, stirring a few times, until lightly golden. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring, then add the wine. Cook for several minutes, scraping the pan to dislodge any browned bits, until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the vinegar and broth, then remove from the heat.
4. Slice each browned sausage into 1-inch lengths. Return the chicken, skin side up, to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Tuck the sausage chunks in between the pieces of the chicken. Add the artichokes and pickled peppers. Transfer to the oven; bake (middle rack) for about 30 minutes or until just cooked through.
5. Let the dish rest for five minutes before dividing the chicken and sausages among individual plates.
6. Spoon the vegetables and sauce over the meat. Garnish with the basil or parsley, if desired, and serve warm.
Nutritional analysis per serving (using low-sodium broth): 500 calories, 46 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 30 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 225 mg cholesterol, 1380 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber 2 g sugar
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick