A spicy Italian skillet recipe for quick weeknight dinners

A spicy Italian skillet recipe for quick weeknight dinners

Chicken Quintiliano

Active time:15 minutes

Total time:25 minutes


Active time:15 minutes

Total time:25 minutes


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For more than 80 years, Colu Henry Quintiliano’s family has been making chicken, a spicy casserole dish that is slightly sweet with caramelized garlic and deeply spicy with balsamic and red wine vinegar. While it’s packed with strong, spicy flavors, the last dish turns softly tart, or what Italians call agrodolce — sweet and sour. It’s a great recipe from Henry’s new book,”Colu Cooks: easy fancy food

A cookbook author and accomplished nutritionist, Henry grew up in Nanuet, a hamlet about an hour north of New York City. She remembers the warm summer evening dinners on the screened-in porch and all the weekends she helped her grandmother make Sunday sauce for big family gatherings. But the dish she remembers most was this chicken.

“Chicken Quintiliano wasn’t a weekend dish, it wasn’t a holiday dish,” Henry tells me over the phone from Hudson, NY. “But my grandmother treated it like her signature.” Her grandmother, Immaculata (Molly) Ferrara Goodman, who lived with the family, made it a few times a month. It wasn’t until Henry was older that she thought of asking about the story behind the recipe’s name.

That’s how the story goes, as far as Henry knows: Luigi Quintiliano and Molly were both organizers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York and anti-fascist activists. After union meetings, they often cooked meals together, and then one day Luigi introduced Molly to his favorite chicken recipe. Molly loved it so much that it became a regular part of her regular routine when she cooked for her family. Finally, probably after her retirement, she named the dish after her old, dear friend.

“It was a weeknight dinner, and it was repeated,” Henry says, noting that her grandmother always spoke fondly of her old friend Luigi.

Ferrara Goodman turned 102. Her younger years were filled with activism and union organizing, while she spent much of her later years cooking for her family — teaching a young Henry how to make her favorite dishes, including chicken Quintiliano. “Growing up, I just knew I loved her cooking, and this chicken dish—although no one else seemed to make it except my nonni,” says Henry.

Today Henry still makes it a few times a month. Below is her streamlined recipe. First, saute a handful of garlic cloves in olive oil. Fish them out, set them aside and then cook the seasoned chicken in the flavored oil until browned all over. (You’ll probably need to do this in batches if you have a skillet that’s less than 12 inches (30 cm) wide.)

How to cook chicken thighs and quarters – the best poultry cuts you can buy

Then add all the chicken back to the pan, along with the garlic, and pour in a full cup of vinegar. Henry asks for 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, but if you only have one kind, you can just use that. However, this is no place to knock out the nice, old, syrupy balsamic. You want to be able to let the sauce reduce while the chicken is simmering, so you always get juicy, tender chicken.

Henry says her grandmother always served this chicken on a bed of rice pilaf, but it would go equally well with polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce.

The sauce is easy to adjust. You can enhance it with anchovies or olives or caramelized onions. Once I added a tablespoon of honey to bring out the sweetness of the garlic, and I would probably do it again.

  • If you don’t eat chicken >> try this with fish (you don’t have to let it simmer that long) or wild mushrooms.
  • Skinless thighs cook quickly in the sauce >> but you can also use skinless thighs.
  • Chicken thighs usually become very tender in the vinegar sauce >> although you can also use chicken breasts. Make sure not to simmer them all the time as they cook faster.
  • The garlic helps reduce the strong vinegary taste >> but try the same recipe with halved shallots or sliced ​​onions for a sweeter twist.

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  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs (4 to 6)
  • fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 ounce) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, to serve (optional)
  • Polenta, rice or mashed potatoes, to serve

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside.

Using tongs, add 2 to 3 chicken pieces to the pan. Cook until chicken is lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Cut into the thickest part of a thigh to check that it is no longer raw in the center. Transfer the browned chicken to a large plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. (The chicken may not be fully cooked at this point, and that’s okay.)

Return all chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar and bring to a boil. Add the oregano and garlic, cover the pan and cook the chicken in the sauce until cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Remove the lid, toss the chicken into the sauce and continue cooking until the sauce has reduced by about half, another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve family style, sprinkled with parsley and flake salt, with polenta, rice or mashed potatoes on the side.

Per serving (1 1/2 chicken thighs and 1/4 cup sauce), based on 4

Calories: 453; Total fat: 28 g; Saturated fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 199 mg; Sodium: 346 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; sugar: 5 g; Protein: 42 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food” by Colu Henry (Abrams, 2022).

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza; e-mail questions to [email protected]

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Check out this week’s Eat Gluttonous recipes:

Monday: Pretzel Baked Chicken

Tuesday: Citrus marinated fish tacos

Wednesday: Big Little Summer Tomato Pizza

The Recipe Archives of the Eat Gluttonous Newsletter