We’ve lived in the Chicago area for almost 20 years and have come across some delicious versions of Chicken Vesuvio. Harry Caray’s makes a mean version that they assert dates back to the 1920s, as does the venerable Gene & Georgetti. Although some people argue
that Chicken Vesuvio has its roots in New York, New Jersey or even southern Italy, we are swayed by the claim that this dish was invented at Vesuvio Restaurant which was located on Wacker Drive in the 1930s. That, and the fact that we never heard of this dish until we moved here.
The components of Chicken Vesuvio are pretty straightforward. Bone-in chicken pieces are pan seared. Potatoes are added, usually with a generous amount of garlic. Oregano (or some other herb, sometimes rosemary) is sprinkled throughout the dish, and a white wine sauce melds all the flavors together. Sometimes additional vegetables are added, like mushroom (like we did) or artichokes. The dish is finished in the oven and peas are added at the last moment. Where ever it came from, no one can argue that this dish is delicious at every bite.
Hurry to get your tickets for Chicago Gourmet 2016, September 24-25, 2016. This premier food festival has an impressive array of celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and tastings.
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 3 potatoes, quartered and then sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 pounds chicken pieces, bone in
- 8-10 baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 2-3 teaspoons oregano
- 1 cup frozen peas
In a large, oven proof pan, heat ¼ cup of the cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and garlic and cook until browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup olive oil to pan. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken pieces. Cook skin side down until browned. Turn skin side up, then add mushrooms. Cook 3-4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned. Return potatoes to the pan. Add stock, wine and oregano. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.
Place pan in oven to finish, about 40 minutes. Add the frozen peas during the last five minutes of baking.
Grits are about as synonymous with the South as sweet tea and pulled pork barbeque. For those unfamiliar, grits are made with stone-ground cornmeal. Think of them as the southern version of polenta.
Grits are a carb that can be dressed up sweet — with a little pat of butter and maple syrup — or like in this recipe, savory — with cheese. The quintessential pairing of shrimp and grits is one that you will find in kitchens from Wilmington to Charlotte with tons of variations in between. We like this version, which is slightly adapted from Saveur. Just don’t use instant grits which are gluey and bland. To quote the 1992 film classic My Cousin Vinny, “no self-respectin’ Southerner uses instant grits.”
Wilmington is home to the annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, April 6-10, 2016. Celebrate spring with arts and crafts shows, entertainment, kids’ activities, a street fair and live music.
Shrimp and Grits
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup white stone ground grits
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1 lb. medium peeled shrimp (about 30)
- 6 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in grits. Cook on low, whisking frequently, until grits are cooked through and are tender and creamy, about 30-40 minutes. Add cheeses and 1 tablespoon butter. Salt to taste. Set aside.
Cook bacon in a medium skillet until browned and crisp. Remove to paper towel. Set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Using the same pan over medium-high heat, cook the shrimp until pink and no longer opaque. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Lower heat to medium. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Return heat to high, add broth. Scrape browned bits from pan and then let liquid reduce by about half. Return shrimp to pan, then add lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and hot sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Season again with salt and pepper if necessary.
To serve, divide grits into 4 portions. Add shrimp and sauce. Top with bacon and scallions.
Did you know wild rice is the state grain of Minnesota? Tis true! Wild rice is actually a semi-aquatic grass that grows in lakes, rivers and bays. Native Americans harvested wild rice in canoes, using beater sticks to knock the seeds into the boat. Even today, by law “wild” wild rice (not cultivated) has to be harvested the same way in Minnesota and only by those licensed to do so, according to the Whole Grains Council.
Nutritionally, wild rice is extremely low in fat, a good source of fiber (3 grams per serving) and has more protein than white rice (7 grams vs. 4 grams per serving).
Residents of the Land of 10,000 Lakes love their Wild Rice Soup. We present a vegan recipe but this can easily be adapted for meat lovers. Sub in chicken broth instead of vegetable, add cooked, diced chicken or turkey (about 3 cups) when adding the broth, and then finish with 1 cup whole milk or cream.
Hugging the very western tip of Lake Superior, Duluth, the self-proclaimed beer capital of Minnesota lures beer lovers with its North Shore Beer Trail.
Wild Rice Soup
- 1 cup wild rice
- Olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- Medium white onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- Half pound of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4-6 cups vegetable broth
- Bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Make wild rice according to package directions. In the meantime, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add carrot, cook 3 minutes. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Remove vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot. Add mushrooms. Let mushrooms cook until caramelized and quite brown. Deglaze the pot with white wine, vigorously scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add reserved vegetables back to pot. Add oregano and rosemary. Stir in flour until all vegetables are well coated. Add 4 cups broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then return to a simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until carrots are soft. Add additional broth if too thick. Add wild rice, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 10 minutes or until rice is hot.