Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vinegar Chicken and Duck Fat Fried Garlic Parsley Potatoes Paired with 2009 Cornarea Estate Bottled Canale D' Alba Italy Roero Arneis

V‌inegar Chicken

I am a fan of gifts – particularly when I am on the receiving end.  It is better to give than receive?  Ha.  I don’t think so.  Just this week I received one of those surprise gifts  - it made my day.  This particular gift came from good friend Christina Princess of the Desert.  Like many gifts from Christina Princess of the Desert, this one came with a catch.  Christina sent me an Italian recipe for vinegar chicken as a challenge for pairing with wine.

Vinegar chicken?  My bulky wine pairing muscles began to spasm.  Vinegar is a natural rival to wine.  When faced with the strong flavor of vinegar, many wines will taste sour, or flat at best.  Although I have prepared dishes using vinegar, a common approach to raising the acidity of a dish and bring balance to the composition, I had previously not prepared anything that featured vinegar as a principal ingredient and this appeared to be just the challenge Christina intended.

After taking a deep breath and running through a dozen or so yoga positions, I began to think more rationally about the challenge of pairing.  To avoid having the wine appear sour when faced with the vinegar, I concluded the wine must be clean and bright with ample acidity.

Vinegar Chicken-1

The recipe Christina provided has its origins in Italy.  I decided to run with the Italian theme and choose an Italian white.  Italian whites are generally known for healthy acidity, so this narrowing of the universe of wines was a good place to start.  I also wanted to stray from the typical wine varieties most popular U.S. stores.  I made a quick jaunt over to Schneiders of Capitol Hill and found a 2009 Cornarea Estate Bottled Canale D' Alba Italy Roero Arneis.  The good folks at Schneiders introduced this wine as having the strong acidity I was looking for as well as healthy minerality.  Perfect.

2009 Cornarea Roero Arneis-1

To accompany the vinegar chicken, I pan fried potatoes, sliced thin on a mandolin, in duck fat and garlic finished with Italian parsely, salt, and pepper at the end of the fry.  The vinegar chicken was delicious and surprised me a bit because the vinegar was not as prominent as expected.  The vinegar flavor certainly existed, but it was subtle, pleasant, and brightened the flavor of the chicken.

2009 Cornarea Roero Arneis-2

When first tasting the chicken, my fears of the wine pairing were relieved.  With only subtle vinegar flavors remaining when plated, I knew the pairing would work.  The 2009 Cornarea Estate Bottled Canale D' Alba Italy Roero Arneis delivered the bright acidity as promised and featured flavors of peach and apricot with grapefruit lingering in the crisp finish.  This wine is a medium bodied white with noteworthy hints of minerals.  It is a delightful wine and a good value at $20.  The pairing was a success.


Vinegar Chicken


  • 2 chicken thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings [or whatever pieces you want]
  • Vegetable oil
  • Flour, spread on a plate
  • Salt, black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1/3 cup tablespoon red or white wine vinegar


  1. Heat a thin layer (1 or 2 tablespoons) of vegetable oil in a frying pan.
  2. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, and fry on a medium heat until golden and crisp, turning once. Do this in a couple of batches, if necessary.
  3. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate. Season with a little salt, and pepper according to taste.
  4. In same pan [wiped of all flour/residue], warm the olive oil, rosemary, garlic and anchovy fillets.
  5. When the anchovies have dissolved/ [garlic starts to exude nice little odor], put the chicken into the pan, turn two or three times, add 1/3 cup vinegar, turn again, cover, and cook over a very low heat for about an hour, turning the chicken pieces from time to time.  
  6. Fiddle with the liquid if you have to -- our chickens here are super tiny so they don't really need a full hour.  I usually serve this with pan-fried potatoes in olive oil, butter, and mashed anchovies (you don't actually taste the anchovies in either, so it's not as redundant as it seems).

In vino veritas, buen provecho.






  1. Sounds absolutely delicious and I'm glad the pairing worked. I wonder if a sparkling wine would have also worked? Just curious.

  2. Steve, sparkling wines generally feature racy acidity and would work equally well. Not being a big fan of sparkling wine, the thought never crossed my mind, but good thinking!

  3. Loved reading about this and I'm glad I could come up with a fun challenge for you. I think something from my former Papa's (pronounced "buppy") Hungarian peasant food repertoire will be my next "gift" to you. Please stock up on Hungarian Half-Sharp paprika from Penzeys (I suggest the half-pound bag) as soon as you can and begin increasing your tolerance for spice.

    Christina, Princess of the Desert
    (cPod, for short)

    BTW - this is not my recipe for chicken with vinegar, it's from Marcella Hazan, and although a variant is available on the internet, the original Marcella recipe is, to my knowledge, only available in her book.

  4. Hi cPod! Thanks for sharing this great recipe! I am off to Penzeys today for the paprika and can't wait for your next gift!