Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pollo al Forno di Campagna

Pollo al Forno di Campagna
Well, it's been some time since I blogged here, and for that I apologize.  I realize it's hard to build a following when you're not giving folks stuff to drool over.  Mi scuzi.  My life has been busy, and in all good ways for this amateur chef-wanna-be guinea.  How so, you ask?

Well, I've moved into new digs, I've bought a new boat, and I've changed how I earn my living. Suffice to say - life's been compli-KAY-ted!  But those are all just more reasons to return to simple cooking that warms the soul.  To that end, I would like to share with those who still keep the link to Café 146 alive in their browser, a new original:  Pollo al Forno di Campagna.

This dish is made in a dutch oven, on the grill. Obviously, you can do it in your oven just as well, and I would expect a setting of about 425 F to work with similar timing as you will see below (depending on your oven.)  This looks long, but I promise, it is - as simple as it gets:


  • (1) small onion, cut in half, sliced thinly
  • (1) large (or 2 small) cloves of garlic, diced fine
  • (2-3) large carrots chopped to your liking (or a handful of baby carrots)
  • (2-3) stalks of celery chopped similarly to the carrots
  • (1) zucchini again, chopped similarly to the carrots & celery
  • (1) bell pepper, any color, I used green this time, others are sweeter
  • (2-3) potatoes (optional, I made risotto, so I left them out) cut in large pcs
  • (1 or 2) links of Italian sausage, remove skins and "torn" to pieces
  • (1) package of 8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (or your favorite)
  • (1) Tbsp of Tuscan herbs (adjust amt to your liking, I prefer not to over-season)
  • (I used oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, toasted sesame seed, chives & parsley)
  • Fresh ground pepper (and salt, if you must)
  • (2) Tbsp E.V. Olive Oil
  • (1-2) Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • (1) Tbsp butter (optional)

First prepare the dutch oven...
  • Pour 2 Tbsp of the EV Olive Oil into the dutch oven first
  • Empty in the package of chicken and turn the pieces to coat with the oil
  • Add the sausage meat (be creative, pick any kind, I used traditional finnochio)
  • Add the onion (and the potato, if using)
  • Add the garlic, the herbs, the pepper (and salt) and butter (if using)

Now prepare the rest of the veggies...
  • Chop the carrots, celery, zucchini, and bell pepper all to your liking
  • (I prefer large pieces because I like my veggies to remain al denté)
  • set these aside in a mixing bowl, to be added to the dutch oven later

Start your grille...
  • I use a kettle-style charcoal grille, and it takes 20 minutes to heat up
  • Create an "indirect" heating arrangement of coals - don't skimp - we need heat!
  • Fire up the grille, and open a bottle of wine - you're ready for a glass for sure!

Cook!  (this is SO hard...)
  • By now you are a glass of wine in the bag, and the coals are glowing hot
  • Put the dutch oven on the grille, cover it, and resume drinking
  • Start the clock... in 20 minutes, you have to lift TWO lids, and add the veggies
  • SO HARD this is...
  • 20 minutes go by?  Lift the bbq lid, put it down.  Lift the dutch oven lid, set aside.
  • Is everything simmering like mad and smelling like heaven?? It should be!
  • Add all the veggies, and give it all a stir, if you feel compelled.
  • The chicken, sausage, butter, and oil should have created plenty of juices.
  • If you have a brain in your head - you brought a piece of bread to dip...
  • Replace BOTH covers, and give 5 minutes for al denté veggies, 10 for well-done
  • (If using chicken breast or a cooler grille/oven, just add time before the veggies) 

When everything has simmered to your satisfaction (and ideally before you have finished the whole bottle of wine) serve your guest(s) or sit down yourself, and enjoy this simple, soul-warming dish in good spirits.  And please try to remember - that to know good food, IS to be close to God. Buon Appetito!