The Italian chicken dish featuring spicy peppers and chunks of sausage is officially known as chicken scarpariello, said Sandra Wu in Cook’s Illustrated. Originally popularized in New York restaurants owned by Southern Italian immigrants—who probably based it on an old family recipe—“scarpariello” means “shoemaker style” in the Neapolitan dialect. The name probably “refers to a meal that a poor cobbler could prepare with easy-to-find ingredients.” Traditionally, this dish is prepared entirely on the stovetop. But we tested numerous versions to avoid having the browned
chicken turn soggy in the sauce, and “to ensure crisp skin, we put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking.” This recipe also substitutes sweet sausage for hot sausage, since the dish is already spicy enough. It’s a great way to turn a weeknight chicken dish into something special.
Recipe of the week
Spicy Italian-Style Chicken With Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
If you cannot find hot cherry peppers, pickled banana pepper rings can be substituted. Serve with a green salad and mashed potatoes, orzo, or soft polenta.
3 tsp vegetable oil
8 oz sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, trimmed of excess fat and skin
and cut crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3–5 pickled hot cherry peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar plus 2 tbsp
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth plus 1 tbsp
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tsp oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sausage and cook until browned, stirring to break sausage into 1/2-inch pieces, about 3 minutes. Transfer
sausage to plate lined with paper towels. Remove skillet from heat; pour off fat into small bowl and reserve; wipe out skillet with paper towels.
Return skillet to medium-high heat and heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil until smoking. Pat chicken dry and liberally season with salt and pepper. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken to brown other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate. Remove skillet from heat and pour off fat into bowl with sausage fat; wipe out skillet with paper towels.
Return skillet to medium-high heat and heat 1 tbsp reserved fat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cherry peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until bell pepper begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sugar, 1/3 cup vinegar,
and 3/4 cup broth; bring mixture to boil, scraping up browned bits from pan bottom.
Add sausage and chicken (with any accumulated juices) to skillet, arranging
chicken pieces in single layer, skin side up, on top of peppers and onion. Transfer skillet to oven and cook 18 to 22 minutes, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, removing smaller pieces sooner if necessary. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch, thyme, and remaining tablespoon broth in small bowl.
Carefully remove skillet from oven (handle will be very hot) and transfer chicken, skin side up, to platter or individual serving plates. Place skillet over medium-high heat and stir in cornstarch mixture. Simmer sauce mixture until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Off heat, taste sauce, and add up to 2 tablespoons vinegar. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce around chicken, being careful not to pour it directly over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.