When I have a chance to either watch or assist a skilled Italian cook in his or her kitchen, I have been repeatedly amazed by the quantities of olive oil and salt employed, especially in Tuscany where the cuisine is very strongly seasoned. This sauteed chicken recipe is a good example of that Tuscan style when roasting meats. You may use a whole chicken if you wish, but this recipe calls for only leg quarters (the chicken’s drumstick and thigh together), which are easier to prepare and less time-consuming than roasting a whole chicken, unless you choose to quarter the chicken into serving pieces before cooking.
This dish is almost always served with roasted potatoes and either salad or a green vegetable.–Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber
Tuscan-Style Sauteed Chicken Recipe
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes | Ingredients are per serving; multiply as needed
- 1 chicken leg (per person), rinsed under cold water and patted dry (see Headnote)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large garlic clove (per person)
- Some fresh rosemary leaves
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling on chicken
- 1 large lemon, quartered (per leg)
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (190°C).
- 2. In a large roasting pan, arrange the chicken legs skin-side down, but not cramped together. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken well, leaving the chicken skin-side up. (Don’t skimp on the salt: you should be able to see it clearly on the meat but it shouldn’t look like a heavy snowfall.)
- 3. Smash the garlic cloves well and tuck one beneath each leg. Sprinkle the rosemary around the pan and again, don’t skimp. Drizzle some olive oil over all, squeeze fresh juice from the quartered lemons over all, and tuck the lemon pieces in among the chicken pieces. If the chicken legs are small, add a small slosh of water or wine (white or red) to the pan to maintain a little moisture until the legs begin to give up their own juices.
- 4. Place the pan in the oven and roast the legs for 50 to 60 minutes, checking the pan after 25 or 30 minutes. (If the meat is very lean you may need to add some more liquid to the pan so that the meat doesn’t get dry.) The chicken skin should be well browned and crispy; the leg joint should be loose. Test by grabbing one end of a drumstick with tongs and piercing the meat with a sharp knife: the juices should be clear, and when you cut into the meat it should fall off the bone.
Usually this chicken won’t require a sauce, but if your chicken is lean, you can deglaze the pan with a little wine or water, swirl in a little butter, and pour the reduced sauce over the meat. Let the legs rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with your preferred vegetable contorno or a salad of fresh greens.
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Tuscan-Style Sauteed Chicken Recipe © 2009 Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber. All rights reserved.