My Mother’s Chicken and Potatoes
This Mother’s Day, New York City restaurant owner Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is recreating one of
her mother’s best dishes.
-Lidia Matticchio Bastianich; Recipe from Lidia’s Family Table (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004) lidiasitaly.com
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.
Makes 4 servings or more
Ingredients 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
1. Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off excess skin and visible fat. Cut the drumsticks from the thighs. If using breast halves, cut into two small pieces.
2. Pour the canola oil into a skillet and set over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt on all sides. When oil is very hot, lay the pieces in skin side down, and an inch apart. Don’t crowd the chicken.
3. Let the chicken pieces fry in place for several minutes to brown on the underside, then continue frying until they’re golden brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Fry breast pieces only for 5 minutes or so, taking them out of the oil as soon as they are golden. Adjust the heat to maintain steady sizzling and coloring; remove the crisped chicken pieces with tongs to a bowl.
4. Meanwhile, rinse and dry the potatoes; slice each one through the middle, then toss them with the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.
5. When all the chicken 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. Fry and crisp the potatoes for about 4 minutes to form a crust, then move them around the pan, still cut side down, until brown and crisp, 7 minutes. Turn them over, and fry another 2 minutes to cook and crisp on their rounded skin sides.
6. Toss the onion wedges and rosemary branches around the pan, in with the potatoes. Return the chicken pieces – except breast pieces – to the pan with any chicken juices that have accumulated. Turn and tumble the chicken, potatoes, and onion to coated with pan juices, but don’t to break potato pieces. Spread everything out in the pan – potatoes on the bottom – and cover. Cook for about 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, then uncover and tumble the pieces and potatoes 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.
8. 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. When chicken is 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.