Dinner in a dish: Sal's Sicilian Chicken

Recipes taste better when they have a story behind it. This one came to me via a friend from Allentown, PA. His father, originally from Foggia, Italy, drove the family every Sunday to Roseto, PA for a taste of the old home. Sal Poidomani, of Sal's Spaghetti House, gave them exactly that. Sal was best known for his authentic red sauce, though he plays that recipe close to the vest. He was gracious enough to share this recipe for his Sicilian chicken, which is your basic baked chicken with a Sicilian twist, a la olives.


For more on Sal:

The recipe:

For dredging chicken:
-- 1/2 cup flour
-- 1/2 tsp. salt
-- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

To make the dish:
-- 1 cup olive oil, divided
-- 4 Russet potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges
-- 3 to 4 medium-sized onions, cut into wedges
-- Assorted bone-in chicken parts (3 each, legs, thighs, breasts)
-- 1/2 pint mixed olives in olive oil
-- 6 or 7 sprigs chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel potatoes and cut lengthwise in half and then cut the halves in half. If using very large potatoes, cut the wedges in half again.
Peel onions and cut them in quarters or eights, also lengthwise
Coat bottom of 13-by-9-inch casserole with olive oil.
Dredge chicken parts in mixture of flour, salt and pepper and then brown on all sides in frying pan coasted with olive oil. Do not overcook. You just want the skin to brown.
Arrange browned chicken parts in the baking pan, leaving some room between the parts. Place potatoes and onions between the chicken parts and then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle olives and chopped parsley over the top.
Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to your taste.
Cover baking pan with aluminum foil and bake the chicken for 1 to 11/2 hours. Check to see if your potatoes are done after 1 hour. If they are, remove foil and bake the dish uncovered for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving with a salad and your favorite white wine.


The Quick and Dirty: Brunch at Hundred Acres

Farm fresh ingredients are the focus at this modern, airy addition to student-dining laden MacDougal Street. The menu reads like a stock list at a farm stand, allowing the typical brunch options a resplendent flare. Think poached eggs served over roasted jalepeno grits. Or french toast made with semolina-raisin bread served with caramelized pineapple and honey yogurt.

Hot: They had me at the drink menu: five choices of bloody marys that come with enough garni to skip the obligatory salad.

Cold: Farm fresh apparently can also mean limited. They ran out of some of their more popular items before the late, hungover crowd (yours truly) made it to brunch. No sweat- I will be back for dinner shortly.

Must try: The feta cheese starter, served with dates, apples, cracked pepper and honey. Just the right blend of salty sweet to awaken all the taste buds you killed with last nights tequila.

38 Macdougal St
Reservations recommended: 212-475-7500


The Quick and Dirty: Yerba Buena

East Village Latin fare: creative, moderately priced food, an inventive, although admittedly confusing cocktail list and a well tended bar.

Vibe: The decor is one part swank, two parts festive, a perfect blend for both a Friday night dinner with friends or a still-in-the-awkward-stage date #3.

COLD: No reservations policy on the weekends and a small waiting area makes for a cramped stay.

HOT: The attentive and talented barkeeps will not only provide you with an endless wave of sorbet colored cocktails, they will also help decode the menu while you wait.

Must try: The ensalada of jicama, avocado, tomato and orange comes in an obsessively tangy citrus vinaigrette. Braised short ribs come on a bed of potato sticks- okay, they call them 'papas a la provenzal'- but they taste just like the ones that come out of a can and the salt helps cut through its syrupy sweet pomegranate glaze.

23 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 529-2919


Getting back to your roots: PB & Co

I'm always amazed at the degree of loyalty peanut butter enthusiasts have for their product. A coworker that shall remain nameless, sneaks finger fulls into his mouth while typing. I will never touch his keyboard. Another friend hides jars from her roommate by stashing them away in her sock drawer. Their devotion seems to exceed that of most food obsessors. The most notable exception being those belonging to the recently created 'burger clubs', but that is worthy of its own post.

It comes as no surprise that someone finally capitalized on this obsession with peanut butter. As a mere peanut butter enthusiast, one sandwich will satiate my cravings for at least a month. I find it's an affection not worthy of purchasing the necessary accouterments to replicate my $9 Elvis, a wonderfully gooey concoction of peanut butter, bananas, honey and bacon on lightly toasted bread. Its also not worth the looks from my Mother when she opens my fridge to see a gigantic jar of Fluff (for the Fluffernutter sandwich, also on the menu). It is the perfect place for that one off, oddball craving that you might not otherwise be willing to satisfy. And for those whose cravings venture beyond the basics, there are far more imaginative options such as the Dark Chocolate Dreams Sandwich- chocolate peanut butter and cherry preserves stuffed with shredded coconut. Or the Pregnant Wife- peanut butter with bread and butter pickle chips.

Whether you go classic or quirky, this cute cafe near Washington Sq Park is a fun take on a childhood favorite. Their sandwiches are served in brown paper bags with little bags of chips and sliced carrots, as if Mom herself had packed it. And if they could somehow fit story time and a nice little nap in there, the experience would truly be complete.