5 November 2020

PREP. TIME: 15 MIN     -   COOK: 35 min   -    Serves: 4

Stefano de Pieri described this recipe as being so simple that he was almost too embarrassed to include it in his 'Modern Italian Food' cookbook.  Simple it is and like Stefano,  I too am always amazed at the result when I cook it.  The aromas of garlic and rosemary are stunning!

Recipe Template

A small 1.3kg chicken is recommended.  Buy the best quality free range or organic chicken that you can get your hands on.  Ask your butcher to remove the backbone and cut the chicken into about 10 - 12 small pieces for quick cooking.  Alternatively, buy 4 - 6 small chicken thighs - on the bone, skin on.  This is a great solution if you are cooking for one, two or for a crowd (allow about one chicken thigh per person) - just be sure to modify the quantities of the other ingredients accordingly.  You may also need to modify the cooking time.

This dish is equally recommended for easy family meals and simple entertaining. 

I like to serve it with a crusty loaf of bread, a Garden Salad or a dish of Sauteed Greens with Chickpeas.


1.3 kg chicken

2 - 3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

6 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup White Wine

A small Sprig of Rosemary (plus extra for garnish)

Salt and Pepper

2 - 3 Anchovies

1 tablespoon Capers - in brine or salted

2 Tomatoes


Chopping board and paring knife

Measuring cups and spoons

26 - 30 cm fry pan or shallow pot

Metal tongs

Small wire strainer

Kitchen paper towel


Step 1 Prepare the ingredients

Remove the chicken pieces from their wrappings when you get home.

Place the chicken on clean kitchen paper towel and pat it dry.

Sprinkle 2 - 3 teaspoons of salt over the chicken flesh.

Store the chicken in a container, uncovered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Bring to room temperature - 1 hour before cooking.

Peel the garlic, bruise each clove gently with the flat blade of a knife.

Rinse the capers in the strainer under cold running water to remove any salt or brine. Drain on clean kitchen towel.

Skin the tomatoes and chop them roughly on a plate - discard the skin but reserve the seeds and any juice.

Step 2 - Brown the Chicken and the Garlic

Place the frypan with 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate to high heat.  Add the whole garlic cloves and a few chicken pieces, taking care not to overcrowd the pan.

Do not let the garlic burn, remove it from the pan once it colours and reserve it with the tomatoes.  Discard any burnt pieces of garlic.

Cook each piece of chicken until golden on all sides - you may need to do this in batches - setting aside the browned chicken on a plate as you go, before adding more to the pan.

Step 3 - Assembly and Cooking

Return all the chicken and any juices to the pan; Arrange the chicken skin side up, in a single layer.  

Increase the heat slightly.

Add a sprig of rosemary and toss it with the chicken.

Add the wine and allow it to simmer briskly for a minute or two to cook off the alcohol.

Add the anchovies and capers, stir these into the pan, flattening them a little as you do so; These ingredients will dissolve into the sauce.  They will add salt to the finished sauce so be cautious when seasoning. 

Reduce the heat and gently turn each piece of chicken, coating it with the sauce.  Return to cook skin side up.

Cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly askew and simmer gently for about 25 minutes - you may need to use a simmer mat to control the heat.

Do not let the pan dry out - add some water or stock - a tablespoon at a time if you need to.

Turn the chicken once or twice while cooking - returning to skin side up.

Add the chopped tomatoes, the juices and the seeds and any reserved garlic.

Allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

The chicken is cooked when you pierce one of the thickest pieces with a sharp knife and the juices run clear - not pink.

Taste the sauce and season again with salt and pepper as necessary.

Step 4 - To Serve

Arrange the contents of the pan in a heated serving dish or on a platter.  

Garnish with fresh rosemary.


Recipe by Stefano de Pieri, Modern Italian Food.

Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey.

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