Chicken Canzanese with Asparagus Pancetta Hash and Wild Rice

Every now and then I like to try something a little out of the ordinary. It's so easy to get in a habit of being routine when it comes to basic main dishes like chicken. But as I'm sure you know, chicken doesn't have to be basic nor routine. There are so many different ways to cook it, so why not go for something a little more lavish from time to time? I recently came across this amazing recipe that has become such a little taste-bud treasure. It was a big hit with the family and I wanted to share the love! 

Chicken Canzanese (pronounced can-zan-ay-zee) is a classic Italian braised dish that easily transforms tough, bland chicken into a deliciously moist and tender meal. The chicken literally falls off the bones!! While this isn't one of the most simple dishes and does have several steps, it's definitely well worth every minute spent cooking. I served this dish with an Asparagus Pancetta Hash and just a regular box of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice. 


First, slice the pancetta into small 1/4 inch slices and the garlic into thin long slices. Then saute the pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp then add the garlic and cook until lightly brown. 

Remove the garlic and pancetta from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside in a small bowl for later. 

Blot the chicken dry with a paper towel (to get a crisp finish) and season both sides with ground black pepper and salt. 

Now brown the chicken. 

Brown both sides for about 5-8 minutes each or until nicely golden brown. Then remove from oil and set aside on a plate. 

Now it's time to prepare the sauce. Reduce the oil then slowly add in the cloves, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. 

Mix in the reserved pancetta and garlic. 

Add a little butter. 

Transfer the sauce to a baking dish and place the chicken into the liquid skin side up making sure that the skin is above the surface of the liquid. This ensures that the outside of the chicken stays nice and crisp. Place in the oven and you're ready to bake!

Cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes and serve. 

Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 1hr 15mins | Total Time: 1hr 45mins | Serves: 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
2 ounces pancetta (or bacon), cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin lengthwise
6-8 bone-in  chicken thighs
salt & pepper to taste
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons flour
2 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
4 whole cloves
1 spring fresh rosemary (leaves removed and minced fine)
12 whole fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add pancetta and cook until just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic slices and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown. Remove pancetta and garlic using slotted spoon and set aside for later.

2. In the same pan, don’t remove the left over oil and increase the heat to medium high and add 2 tsp olive oil and heat until it starts to steam. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and sprinkle both sides with generous amount of pepper and a pinch of salt. Add chicken skin side down and cook without moving until nicely browned, about 6-8 minutes. Turn chicken and brown on second side for about 5 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate.

3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Sprinkle flour over fat and cook, stirring for about 1 minute and slowly add wine and chicken broth. Bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pan with spoon to loosen browned bits and cook until liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Stir in cloves, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, butter and reserved pancetta-garlic mixture.

4. In a separate glass or tin oven-safe baking dish, transfer the sauce mixture from the skillet, then place chicken into liquid inside the baking dish skin side up. Skin should be above the surface of liquid to keep it crisp at all times and bake, uncovered, until meat offers no resistance when poked with fork, about 1 hour. Check chicken after 15 minutes in the oven; broth should be barely bubbling and if bubbling too much, reduce oven temperature to 300°.

5. Turn off oven, transfer chicken to serving platter, pour sauce around chicken and serve.

With the traditional recipe it's typical to remove the chicken from the sauce after baking and then reduce and bring the sauce to a boil adding the rosemary, lemon juice, and butter. This is a totally optional step, I usually add all the ingredients during the stove top sauce making process. In my opinion it cuts down on an extra step and doesn't compromise on the taste at all. So just use your own judgement.
Recipe adapted from

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