Pollo all’Ischitana
For a few years my great-aunt lived in Ischia, a gorgeous little island in the Bay of Naples. Ischia is very close to Capri and doesn’t get as many tourists there. The tourists that do go there tend to be Italians. If you can get there I highly recommend it. The Island holds true to many traditions and my great-aunt cooks an amazing typical dish from this jewel in the bay of Naples. The dish is local rabbit cooked in wine, herbs and tomatoes. Every time I visit my aunty, I ask her to make this for me as I love the way she does it.

You can use rabbit in this dish, if you can source a nice plump one. Alternatively, the recipe works well with chicken, which tends to be much more succulent and tender.

If you don’t have fresh ripe tomatoes, you can use a generous tablespoon of tomato paste instead. That is how my aunty does it and it gives the dish a rich, deep flavour.

This one is for you Zia Anna! Mwah!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, approx 1.5kg
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • chicken stock, as needed
  • 10 vine ripened Roma tomatoes
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 a small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
Method:

    1. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces.
    2. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the chicken pieces; set aside.
    3. Put the olive oil in a large, heavy, casserole pan on high heat. Cut the garlic bulb in half lengthways and add it to the oil with the chilli. Once the garlic is light golden and fragrant, remove all of it from the oil.
    4. Add the chicken pieces, in batches, and brown the chicken until golden all over.
    5. Add all the chicken back into the pan and add the wine and lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 30 minutes. Turn the chicken occasionally to cook evenly. If the wine evaporates add a little chicken stock every now and then, so the chicken is always moist.
    6. After the 30 minutes is up, add the chopped tomatoes, all the herbs and a little more pepper and cook for another 15 minutes. It is ready when the chicken is cooked through and tender and a nice sauce has formed in the pan. Season to taste

Traditionally this is served with roast potatoes and a mixed leaf salad. Alternatively, serve on a bed of creamy polenta or use the sauce as a condiment to bucatini pasta and serve the chicken as a side.