Polletto con Mosto d’Uva (Baby Chicken in Grape Sauce)

May 5, 2013Posted in:

Polletto con Mosto d’Uva
Baby Chicken in Grape Sauce
Serves 4

4 (22-ounce) baby chickens (or Cornish hens)
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and chopped
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups red wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Large bunch seedless red grapes, removed from the stem
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup flour

1. Cut the chickens open along their backbones and flatten them out on your kitchen counter. Cover the chickens with a kitchen towel, then pound them lightly with a meat mallet. Wash and pat the birds dry.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped herbs, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season the chickens on both sides with salt and pepper. With your fingertips, rub the herb mixture into the flesh. Place the chickens in a bowl, cover them, and let them marinate in the refrigerator overnight. (If you don’t have time, you don’t have to marinate. The chicken will be good, but a little less flavorful.)
3. When you are ready to cook, pour the red wine into a medium saucepan and add the sugar, red wine vinegar, and grapes and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the grapes for approximately 30 minutes, then set them aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large, ovenproof saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high until it becomes very hot. Flour the skin side of the chickens, shaking off any excess. Slide the chickens, skin side down, into the pan. Be careful, the oil may splatter. Shake the pan to keep the chickens from sticking to the bottom. When the skin is browned, after 4 or 5 minutes, turn the chickens and brown the other side, another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, flip the chickens again, and pour the grape sauce over them. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the chickens for 35 to 40 minutes. Test to make sure they’re cooked through (when pricked with a fork, the juices should run clear.) Place the chickens on a plate, skin side up, then pour the sauce over and around them.