Vincotto is a wonderful ingredient. I have the Gianni Calogiuri brand. Michael and Rob gave me the large bottle as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I have just finished it. It has been used, exclusively, on this recipe so that shows how often I have cooked it. The two little bottles are recent purchases. I couldn’t find the large bottle anywhere in Perth. My mate, Colette, found the smaller bottles in Fremantle.
According to the label, Vincotto has been produced by the Calogiuri family since 1825. It is produced in Lizzanello (Apulia) from two varieties of grapes: Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. The grapes are left to dry on the vine or over wooden frames then the must is gently boiled for 24 hours until it reduces to one fifth of its original volume. The syrup is then poured into small oak barrels, along with a mother vinegar or starter. It is aged in the barrels for 4 years. (I am going to give it a go next summer. I will report back in 4 years time.)
I have stayed moderately true to Maggie Beer’s ingredients but I have changed the technique slightly to make it more home cook and dinner party friendly. Maggie Beer marinates the chicken in the olive oil, rosemary, bay leaves and lemon zest. Later, she browns the legs, deglazes the pan with the Vincotto, adds all the other ingredients and then puts the chicken and the other ingredients in the oven for 10 minutes. Browning the legs is very messy and, in my opinion, is best done earlier so you can clean up the kitchen before your guests arrive.
This serves 8. Some people won’t eat 3 legs but it is good to serve that many. You can always have leftovers the next day.
- 24 chicken legs
- zest of 3 lemons, cut into large strips
- 8 -10 bay leaves
- 8-10 sprigs of rosemary
- 3 sticks of cinnamon
- olive oil
- ¼ cup vincotto
- ½ cup green olives
- ½ cup raisins
- ¼ cup capers
- ½ cup almond flakes, toasted until golden
- ½ cup parsley
- Brown chicken legs in butter, a few at a time until all are done.
- Put browned chicken legs in baking dish along with salt, rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, lemon rind and cinnamon.
- Splash olive oil over chicken. Set aside. You can do up to this stage the day before or earlier in the day and refrigerate.
- If chicken has been refrigerated, take it out of the fridge in sufficient time to get back to room temperature.
- About an hour before eating, place chicken in preheated 180 C oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and add vincotto, olives, raisins and capers. Put pan back in oven for 15 minutes or so until chicken legs are cooked to your liking.
- To serve: sprinkle with the almond flakes and parsley. I find this the hardest part. After a few drinks, I invariably forget the garnish. (Thanks, Nadia, for the recent last minute reminder.)
You can remove the bay leaves, lemon, cinnamon and rosemary or just tell your guests not to eat them.