If you don't want to cut up a whole chicken, you can buy pieces—get all legs and thighs, which is what I like. Best of all, though, is to make this dish with an organic older hen. If you do make this with an older hen, increase the cooking time by 20 minutes, adding more water or stock as needed to keep the hen covered while it cooks.
Cut each chicken into twelve pieces: With a sturdy knife or kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along both sides. Remove the wing tips. (You can save the backbone, wing tips, and giblets—except for the liver—to make chicken stock another time. Or, if you like, cut the backbone in half crosswise and add it to this dish.) Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board, and cut it into halves by cutting through the breastbone lengthwise. Cut off the wing at the joint that connects it to the breast, then cut each wing in half at the joint. Separate the leg from the breast. Cut the leg in half at the joint. Cut the breast in half crosswise, giving the knife a good whack when you get to the bone to separate the breast cleanly into halves. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces in flour, coating them lightly and tapping off excess flour. Heat the vegetable oil in a wide braising pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until a piece of chicken dipped in the oil gives off a very lively sizzle. Add as many pieces of chicken to the pan as will fit without touching (do not crowd the chicken; you can always brown it in batches). Remove the chicken pieces from the skillet as they brown, adding some of the remaining pieces of chicken to take their place. After browning all the chicken and removing it from the skillet, add the onion to the fat remaining in the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Pour the wine into the pan, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano, season lightly with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Tuck the chicken into the sauce, adjust the heat to a gentle boil, and cover the pan. Cook, stirring a few times, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and peppers, and toss until the peppers are wilted but still quite crunchy, about 8 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt.
Add the peppers and mushrooms to the chicken pan. Cook, covered, until the chicken and vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Check the level of the liquid as it cooks; there should be enough liquid to barely cover the chicken. If necessary, add small amounts of water to maintain the level of liquid as the chicken cooks.) Serve the chicken pieces nestled between the vegetables on a platter.
To Freeze: Set in container what you want to freeze, making sure the meat is covered by the sauce, and then label and freeze. To reheat, let defrost, bring to a simmer and let the chicken heat up throughout.
Excerpted from Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Bastianich. Copyright © 2012 by Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Published on December 08, 2012