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Monday, February 21, 2011

KNOWING YOUR CHICKEN - or Pollo, Gallina, Cappone

There is an Italian expression “Una gallina vecchia fa buon brodo” (An old hen makes good soup)? Well, it does.

Old hen for soup
A chicken is called gallina when it starts to lay eggs (older and fatter). Once it stops laying eggs, it’s best for stock, soup or brodo).   Pollo is a generic name for a young chicken (it is always female for commercial use). It is better if cooked grilled, fried or roasted.  Then there is the capon (cappone) which is a castrated rooster for the purpose of achieving greater weight and softness of the flesh.

Stuffed chicken (Pollo ripieno)
All photo Copyright - ©2011 - La Casa e Il Giardino - picasaweb

In our household, we prefer to eat chicken over beef.  Chicken is soft, easily chewable and digestible, and very versatile, and why not, delicious.  Contrary to what one might think when seeing the color, chicken contains a quantity of iron almost equal to that of red meat.  There are million ways to prepare chicken, all with great success – Boiled or roasted, fried or braised, whole or in pieces, warm or cold, boned or stuffed.  Whichever way the chicken is prepared, it always turns out great; the importance is knowing the age of the chicken in order to avoid roasting an old fowl and boiling a young chicken.

Crispy Iron Skillet Chicken – Pollo Fritto


2 chicken breast halves (bone-in), 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 4 wings
or 2 ½ lb. whole chicken or fryer cut into pieces
3 green peppers (fryers) – cut into strips
1 red onion - sliced
5 cloves of garlic with skin on (slit)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
10 cured, black olives


Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add oil.  When oil is hot, add peppers and onions and sauté over medium heat.  Add whole garlic cloves and cook until tender.  Add olives. Remove and set aside. Leave remaining oil in the pan.

Preheat oven to 450F.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Place chicken skin side down in the oil remaining in the cast iron pan.
Cook 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat until a crispy crust forms. Turn a few times.  Place in oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes.
Place chicken in a serving dish with the peppers, onions, garlic and olive.

Pan fried chicken with hot peppers, garlic, onions and cured olives
Pollo fritto con peperoncini, aglio, cipolla e olive curate