I’m not sure where I had my first taste of chicken scarpariello, though I do know that somehow my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law were involved in the process. It very well could have been at the annual St. Augustine Italian Festival. Ossining Pizza also makes a delicious chicken scarpariello pizza that I haven’t had in ages. I’ve been craving this spicy dish lately and there are dozens of completely different recipes for it floating around online. Some didn’t even sound remotely like the version I’ve always had. So, I consulted my Sopranos cookbook (don’t laugh – some of the recipes in it are excellent!) and used the recipe in it as a jumping-off point. I tweaked it around a bit and came up with this:
6 Hot Italian sausages (or 3 hot/3 sweet)
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup hot cherry peppers, cut in half
1 cup mild cherry peppers, cut in half
1/2 cup brine from mild cherry peppers (or vinegar)
1/4 cup chicken broth
dry white wine (did not measure), optional
Prick sausages with a fork and bring to a boil. (I do this to remove some of the grease before adding them to my dish). Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat enough olive oil in a pan to cook the chicken breast cubes, and saute until golden brown. After sausage have boiled for a few minutes, drain and cut into 1-inch chunks. Once chicken has cooked (approx. 10 minutes), add garlic and sausage. Sautee 3-4 minutes. Add hot peppers, mild peppers, brine, and chicken broth. Simmer for 5 minutes and give a taste. Adjust seasoning and add a splash of dry white wine if you desire. Simmer another 10 minutes to reduce sauce.
I like to serve this with thin spaghetti. I’ve also had a version that includes potatoes, in which case you’d have an all-in-one meal. The verdict: HOLY SPICY, BATMAN! This was so hot I was actually sweating. Lucky for me I like spicy food. Next time I think I would use both types of sausage instead of just the hot, and I would also cut the peppers into smaller pices. I’ll be honest: I only cut them in half because it made for a pretty presentation. I also might add the potatoes next time to see if they soak up a little of the heat. All in all, though, it was really delicious and I’m looking forward to perfecting this recipe!