Garlicky Chicken With Herbs & Vinegar

December  4, 2020
3 Ratings
Photo by Photographer: Ty Mecham Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne
Author Notes

Haven’t you noticed that so many of the best chicken dishes get hit with a splash of vinegar? When I think of vinegar and chicken, (read more about this timeless combo here) my mind immediately jumps to Chicken Savoy. Though the dish is simple, it’s attracted a cult following in Essex County, New Jersey. After first debuting at Belleville’s Belmont Tavern in the 1960s, the dish has turned up on menus at red sauce restaurants all around the area. The official recipe remains a tightly-kept secret, so when I crave chicken and vinegar at home, I riff on Chicken Savoy.

I like to serve this with lots of crusty Italian bread, the finest option for mopping up the tangy pan sauce. A side of something crunchy and bitter—like barely-blanched broccoli rabe tossed with lemon juice or a salad of chicories like radicchio, treviso, and endive—work well if you’re looking for something extra. —Rebecca Firkser

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 6
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan (or a scant 1/2 cup pre-grated)
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine, chicken broth, or a mix
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • Small handful fresh oregano and/or thyme sprigs
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for serving
  • Good Italian bread, for serving
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 450ºF. Pat-dry the chicken and season well on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. If not using pre-grated, cut the cheese into a couple pieces, place in a food processor and pulse until the cheese is finely grated (or, if using pre-grated, just add the cheese to the machine). Add the garlic, anchovies if using, herbs, red pepper flakes, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse until a paste forms. (This mixture can also be made by hand: Grate the cheese on the fine holes of a box grater. Finely chop the herbs and garlic before mixing with red pepper flakes and oil.) Season with a big pinch of salt and lots of pepper.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large oven-safe (stainless steel or cast-iron work best) skillet over medium-high heat. Nestle in half the chicken parts, skin-side down. Sear the chicken until it releases from the pan naturally and is well-browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and let cook for another 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a sheet pan (or plate or platter) skin-side up, then repeat with remaining chicken parts.
  4. Use a spoon or spatula to smear the cheese-herb mixture over the skin side of each chicken piece.
  5. Pour the white wine or broth, and 1 tablespoon each of the balsamic and red wine vinegars into the skillet, and use a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits stuck to the pan. Scatter sprigs of fresh oregano and thyme, then return all the chicken, still skin-side up, to the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chicken is cooked through, registering at least 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter deep enough to hold the sauce.
  6. Scrape up any browned bits in the pan and stir in the remaining tablespoon of both vinegars. Pour pan sauce over the chicken and serve topped with parsley.

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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. Her writing has appeared in TASTE, The Strategist, Eater, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl. You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.