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Chicken Scarpariello: The best Italian dish you’ve never heard of

By Meredith Deeds, Star Tribune
Published: April 24, 2024, 6:04am

Chicken Scarpariello is a beloved classic Italian-American dish, and I’d never heard of it.

I came across this delicious sounding sweet-and-sour chicken, with sausages and fresh and pickled peppers, in the process of researching another recipe. It sounded so good that, like a dog chasing a squirrel, I forgot all about my original project and did a deep dive into the unknown world of Chicken Scarpariello.

When it came to creating my own version, though, I hesitated. I have zero personal experience with it, and dipping my toe into these agrodolce waters could be risky.

Trust me, I’m still recovering from all the Facebook comments from angry Italian nonnas after Lasagna Soup-gate years ago. But the recipe looked so good that I thought it was worth the risk, and I was right.

The internet abounds with recipes for pollo allo scarpariello, or “shoemaker’s chicken” and, of course, each is slightly different. For some, the sauce is lemon-based. Others are a balance of vinegar and sugar. Some include potatoes, although most don’t. They’re all over the map.

I landed on an easy version that (I think) preserves the essence of the dish while making it doable any night of the week.

Mine starts with browning sweet Italian sausage and chicken thighs. Then I sauté red bell peppers, onions and a robust amount of sliced garlic. Italian herbs are added next, along with white wine and chicken stock.

For the pickled peppers, I chose Peppadews, the fire-engine red cherry peppers often found in the olive bar section in grocery delis. These work well with the sweet and sour theme, and I could use the sweet, slightly hot pickling juice to give the sauce its signature tanginess.

After a few test runs, I decided my favorite way to serve it is over creamy polenta, but roasted fingerling potatoes were also a lovely accompaniment.

The result was so good I might even post it on Facebook.

Chicken Scarpariello

Serves 4 to 6.

Juicy, tender chicken thighs and sausages are bathed in a slightly sweet, slightly sour sauce to make scarpariello, the Italian-American dish you didn’t know you needed. Serve with roasted potatoes or over creamy polenta. From Meredith Deeds.

1 tbsp. olive oil

12 oz. (4 links) Italian sausage

21/4 lb. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 4 to 6)

3/4 tsp. salt, divided

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, finely grated

11/2 tsp. Italian herbs

1/2 c. dry white wine

1 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. chopped pickled Peppadew peppers, plus ¼ c. of the pickling juices

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

Chopped parsley, for serving

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet or sauté pan over medium-high. Cook sausages, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes (they will not be fully cooked). Transfer to a plate and slice in half crosswise.

Season chicken on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook in same skillet, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to plate with sausage.

Add onions, bell peppers and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to same skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian herbs and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring and scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet, until liquid is almost entirely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add broth, peppers and pickling liquid and bring to a boil; cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Nestle chicken and sausages into vegetable mixture, then transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken and sausage is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and sausage to a serving platter and stir the vinegar into the sauce. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or vinegar, if necessary.

Ladle the sauce over the chicken and sausage. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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