I had a blast revisiting this classic Italian dish.
Chicken with grapes, or pollo all’uva, usually consists of roasting chicken pieces with grapes. It is very simple to make, some even considering it ”a trivial and ordinary dish”.
Instead, I decided to braise the chicken using Italian sausage as a flavour base. Remember my post Sausages with grapes? With the combination of sausages, wine, balsamic vinegar and the sweetness of the grapes, the sauce explodes with flavour and I was very happy with it.
Braising the chicken in the oven gives you the best of both worlds: excessively tender meat and very crispy skin. For this recipe, I used purple grapes but they end up discoloring as they cook, so I would recommend using white (green) grapes, just for the look. You can also use regular balsamic vinegar if you don’t have the white variety.
For four people:
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
2 mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1 small onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth (approximately)
1 1/2 cup purple or white grapes, whole
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Set the oven to 325ºF.
1. Wash the chicken thighs and pat dry. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chicken pieces in the olive oil, skin side down at first and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Remove all the chicken pieces from the skillet and keep warm on a plate.
3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet and reduce the heat to medium.
4. Cook the sausage, breaking it up as you go with a wooden spin until it is fully cooked. Add the onion and celery and cook until they are soft, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for one minute. Add the flour, and stir for one or two minutes.
5. Add the white wine and let reduce by half, about 3 minutes.
6. Add the chicken and its accumulated juices back to the skillet and add just enough chicken broth to come to about half the thickness of the chicken pieces. Remember that the grapes will release a bit of liquid as they cook, so don’t drown the meat in broth.
7. Put in the warm oven, uncovered and cook for 40 minutes. Take the skillet out of the oven and scatter the grapes between the chicken pieces, letting some of them sink to the bottom. Put everything back into the oven and continue to cook for another 40 minutes.
8. At this point, the chicken meat should be excessively moist and the skin as crispy as it can get. Take the dish out of the oven, put the chicken pieces on a plate, remove the grapes with a slotted spoon and put next to the chicken. Add the thyme leaves and the balsamic vinegar and, on high heat, reduce the sauce until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve the chicken on warm plates, over the sauce and grapes.