I was attracted to this 1969 recipe Amanda Hesser featured in The New York Times a couple of weeks ago. There is no browning involved and I immediately thought that chicken can’t be pretty without a golden brown crust. But then I remembered Hainanese chicken, a dish from the Hainan Island of China but perfected by those who immigrated to Singapore.
This style is Canzanese–Canzano is in the Abruzzo region in Italy–but it’s poached with wine instead of its juice alone. The pancetta gives the chicken some soul (Anthony Bourdain once said, All roads lead to pork), while the fresh herbs give it a fragrant smell as soon as you take the lid off and let out some steam.
3 chicken pieces
1 thick round of pancetta, cut into strips
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, sliced lengthwise
2 peppercorns, crushed
1 dried red chili, crushed
1. Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl; cover with cold water and add 1 tsp of salt. Let stand 1 hour. Drain and pat dry.
2. Arrange the chicken pieces in one layer in a frying pan fitted with a lid and add the rest of the ingredients over the chicken. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer until the chicken is nearly done, about 40 minutes. Uncover and cook briefly over high heat until the sauce is reduced slightly.