Chicken Vesuvio, a specialty of Chicago, is an Italian-American dish made from chicken on the bone and wedges of potato, celery, and carrots; sauteed with garlic, oregano, white wine and olive oil, then baked until the chicken’s skin becomes crisp. Chicken Vesuvio is often garnished with a few green peas for color. In Chicago, one also often finds the technique applied to other foods, like “steak Vesuvio,” “pork chops Vesuvio” or even just “Vesuvio potatoes.” The origins of the dish are unknown, but some suggest it might have been popularized by the Vesuvio Restaurant, which operated at 15 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, in the 1930s. Just about every Italian restaurant in Chicago has some rendition of it. Traditionally made on Sundays, chicken Vesuvio will literally conquer your heart and.. your belly!
Vegetable oil, for browning
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into lengthwise wedges
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
One 4.5-pound chicken, cut into 14 serving pieces including back and neck
4 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 small onions, peeled, quartered at the root end
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut into thick strips
16 ounces frozen peas, thawed
Preheat the oven to 400°F and prepare a large roasting pan. Heat 1⁄₂ inch vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and sausage, and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. When browned, transfer the potatoes and sausage to the roasting pan. Season the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt. Brown chicken on all sides in batches, about 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer the breast pieces to the roasting pan, leaving the dark meat in the skillet. Drain the vegetable oil from the skillet, and pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil and the crushed garlic.
Once the garlic begins to sizzle, toss in the onions and oregano. Deglaze with the white wine. When the white wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock. Return to a boil, and then pour all the contents of the skillet into the roasting pan. Toss in the bell peppers and sprinkle everything with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place in the oven, and roast 20 minutes; then scatter in the peas. Stir and return to oven, to roast until the chicken is tender and caramelized and only a thin layer of liquid remains in the bottom of the pan, about 30 to 40 minutes more, stirring occasionally during roasting. Serve chicken Vesuvio on a warm platter.
Note: To get fourteen pieces from the chicken, cut as follows. Two wings, two drumsticks, two thighs, each breast half in two pieces, neck chopped in two pieces, back in two pieces.