Pollo  Italiano

Ciao a Tutti!

I am so glad to be back again, I had the loveliest weekend with a little adventure yesterday at a one of a kind Pumpkin Fair held annually for the last thirty years in a magnificent country village that sits high up on a hilltop.  I am so awe-struck with the village folk’s passion for pumpkin that I decided to do an entire post about it in a couple of days along with a pumpkin recipe to boot. Saturday was equally fun as I spent it with a group of  female”foodies” who wanted a lesson on Indian cuisine. We had a blast in the kitchen, getting our hands dirty while exchanging cultural secrets and lady chat amidst the perfumes of Indian spices. It all came together blooming, with a lunch table laden with the exotic fruits of our labour which they all thoroughly enjoyed much to my satisfaction. Ladies thank you all so much for coming over, it was an absolute pleasure. I know I was supposed to post the recipes of our cooking lesson on here but that will have to wait, as today kicks off the week to a worldwide Italian culinary celebration where 105 countries will host events dedicated to the Settimana della Cucina Italiana which means the “Week of Italian Cuisine” which of course we have to celebrate here at Kitchen Opera.

This acclaimed endeavour seeks to promote Italy’s culinary traditions all around the world by highlighting their most famous dishes as well as showing off the excellence of  goods “Made in Italy”. I have waited patiently for this week to begin to start showing you my favourite Italian inspired dishes that I’ve been cooking and enjoying since I arrived here. Of course I won’t be able to get it all done in a week so I started with this easy but amazing Italian Rub to get us started in our celebration of simplicity.

I always say that to turn up the flavour in our kitchen we must be willing to experiment. We have to practise trying different blends if we want to get away from serving the same monotonous suppers day after day. Putting herbs and spices together to make various rubs and marinades is my favourite way to spend a lazy afternoon. There are a few good reasons why making your own rubs and marinades are better than it’s store-bought counter-parts. The biggest factor being that there are no additives, preservatives and colorants added, making it all natural and honest. The second factor for me is the freedom to create something unique every time, tailored to my own preference rather than buying the same old packet stuff month after month in the grocery store, not that packaged rubs and marinades are easy to find in Italy. Quite the contrary actually so more incentive for me to get creative in the kitchen.  Of course another all important benefit is the cost factor which ends up saving you a pretty penny.

Most of us love a good roasted chicken and today I want to share with you one of my favourite rubs for chicken that never fails bring out the best in a bird using Italy’s most favoured herbs. This rub has been known to get some serious attention  that even my husband who’s been a vegetarian for 33 years has said to me on occasion “I don’t eat meat but this smells very good.” Guys, I don’t want to put a feather in my cap here so I will just leave it to you good people to give this recipe a try to taste it for yourself.

  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp bay leaf powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry origano
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried crushed chilli
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  1. Combine all dry ingredients together and mix well to make the Italian Rub.
  2. Rub 500g of chicken pieces with the seasoning coating all sides. Place chicken in an ovenproof dish with a knob of butter and 1 onion that has been quartered. Root on.
  3. Drizzle over a tsp of olive oil.
  4. Roughly cover the dish with parchment paper.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 160°C gas fan / 180°C electric fan /200°C conventional.
  6. After roasting time turn on the grill/broiler and grill until golden brown.
  7. Remove chicken pieces and deglaze the dish with 1/2 cup of boiling water.
  8. Place chicken into the gravy and garnish with Italian parsley (optional).
Maestros Need to Know

*When purchasing chicken there are a few things you should look out for to make sure that you are getting the best. The first thing that catches my eye when buying whole chickens in particular are breasts of the chicken. The breasts should always be plump and a pale pink colour. Plump firm breasts ensures freshness. Also take the time to check for discolouration or bruises on the chicken.  Bruises on the chicken usually is an indication that the chicken has been handled roughly and that is not a good sign. If there are still a few traces of feathers on the chicken don't worry too much about it because you can pull them off or burn them off at home.

*Buying chicken whole can you save you a lot of money over time so you should learn how to cut it quickly and efficiently by using the following technique.

Wash the chicken in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the bird on a chopping board, breast side facing up. Hold both drumsticks and twist backwards to loosen the sockets. With your fingers locate where the sockets connect the thigh to the carcass. Always look for fat lines on the chicken as these will indicate the exact point as to where the knife should go. Cut though along the fat line to sever the thigh and drumstick from the carcass  This way you will not have to cut through any bone. Locate the joint that connects the drumstick to the thigh and cut through, again look for the fat line. When slicing off the breasts, you need to slice along the breast bone close to the ribs, then work your way down the rib cage to remove the breast. Cut off the wings.

*Raw and under-cooked chickens are a dangerous source of bacteria such as salmonella which can lead to food poisoning rendering a person ill for days so always ensure that whenever you are handling raw chicken you must always wash your hands thoroughly to disinfect. It is vital to also disinfect  the chopping board and utensils before using them again. I tend to keep separate colour coded boards for meat, fish, and vegetables.