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Dinner Gino's Italian Escape

Pollo all’aceto balsamico: Chicken with pancetta, garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar

“Try to get the best balsamic you can afford for this recipe.”
– Gino D’Acampo

Balsamic vinegar is a true flavour of northern Italy. The real thing is made in Modena, in Emilia-Romagna, and the bottle will be labelled ‘tradizionale’ or DOC. This is the best, but it is also the most expensive. Try to get the best you can afford for this recipe – you don’t need much and it really does make a difference to the dish. Do not buy the really cheap versions – it is never a good idea!

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
– 4 chicken drumsticks, bone in and skin on
– 200g smoked pancetta, diced
– 3 garlic cloves, sliced
– A few fresh thyme sprigs
– 150ml white wine
– 300ml chicken or vegetable stock
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the salad:

– 200g fine asparagus tips, cut in half lengthways
– 200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
– A few fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid or a casserole dish. Put the chicken pieces in the pan skin-side down and fry for 5–7 minutes until the skin is golden brown and really crispy. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over, season the skin and add the pancetta. Cook for a minute before adding the garlic and thyme. The pancetta should be crispy when done.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up all the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the alcohol to bubble for a minute, then add the stock. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, adding more stock if the contents of the pan become dry.

While the chicken is cooking, place the asparagus, tomatoes, parsley leaves, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then toss everything together. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat – the sauce should have reduced and thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, return the pan to the heat for 1 minute to warm the sauce, then serve the chicken and sauce with the asparagus salad.

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