4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
12-16 chicken drumsticks (or thighs, whichever is on sale)*
4 tsp. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. coarse-ground black pepper
2 yellow onions, medium diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1 medium bell pepper, rough diced
20-30 cloves garlic, gently mashed
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz. size)
1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz. size, crushed
1 can Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies, 10 oz.
2 cans fat-free chicken broth
3/4 cup port wine (optional but recommended)
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 chicken bouillon cubes
¼ cup fresh minced parsley
Dash red pepper flakes
24 oz. wide egg noodles, cooked al dente
2 cups Five Italian Cheeses, shredded
2 loaves French bread, buttered and toasted
2 cups early June peas, buttered and seasoned
2 baked spaghetti squash
Start off by placing a large oval roaster or porcelain-lined Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium heat. Then pour in the olive oil.
In the meantime, take the skinned and washed chicken drumsticks, pat them dry with paper towels, lay them out on a sheet of waxed paper, and season them liberally with the poultry seasoning and a generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper.
When the olive oil is just short of smoking, begin browning the drumsticks a few at a time (it is important that you do not overcrowd the pot!). As they become seared, remove them from the pot with a pair of long-handled tongs and set them aside. Continue the process until all of the drumsticks are browned.
Now, without raising or lowering the heat, drop the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic cloves into the Dutch oven and stir them vigorously, scraping up in the process the bits of browned chicken that stuck to the bottom of the pot when they were seared.
Then when the veggies clear and soften, pour in the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes, the Rotel tomatoes, the chicken broth, the port wine, and the Worcestershire and briskly whisk everything together until fully combined into a flavored braising liquid. Now drop in the bouillon cubes, the parsley, and the red pepper flakes and once again stir everything thoroughly until the bouillon cubes fully dissolve.
At this point, cover the Dutch oven; then reduce the heat to “low” and cook the “gravy” for about 30 to 40 minutes until smooth and velvety. Finally, after the allotted simmering time, remove the lid, drop in all of the chicken legs, nestle them into the gravy so that they’re mostly covered, place the lid back on the pot, and cook the chicken at a simmer for about an hour (or until the meat shows signs of falling off the bones).
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, boil the noodles in lightly salted water until they become al dente (to the tooth). Then drain them thoroughly in a colander, place them by servings into deep soup bowls, ladle the gravy and the chicken over the top of the noodles, liberally garnish with the shredded Italian cheese, and serve each with a generous piece of hot buttered French bread and a side of buttered green peas. Oh, yeah. . .a baked spaghetti squash makes a nice accompaniment to this meal.
I don’t recommend using chicken white meat in this recipe, because even though the chicken is braised in liquid the texture always appears to turn out rather course and the palatability tends to be dry. Of course, that’s a preference thing . . .so do your thing!
The garlic in this recipe is also a preference thing— if you like smothered garlic you can add a lot of it to the gravy as it smothers. If, on the other hand, you’d prefer just a little, add in as few as 4 cloves.
I suggest you use an electric pole blender to chop up the coarse tomatoes. It gives the final gravy a thicker texture and a smoother taste. Of course, if you like chunks of tomatoes in your gravies and sauces. . .knock yourself out!
A note about the cheeses—you can go with Parmesan alone, or Romano alone, or a combination of the two. But I really like the flavor intensity I get from the prepackaged Italian blend (Kraft puts the top five cheeses together in one zippered pack—you’ll find it in the dairy section of your supermarket).
So does this recipe have to be done with egg noodles? Absolutely not! You pick the kind of pasta you like and use it. Personally, I don’t have a favorite—I like the chicken and gravy ladled over any and all of them!
To do the spaghetti squash, cut it lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Then place each half, cut-side down, on a shallow baking sheet, slide the sheet into a 350-degree preheated oven, and roast the squash halves for about 45 minutes until the outer skin can be easily penetrated with a fork. Then to serve it, take a fork and scrape out the “strands” from the inside of the squash (it will look just like spaghetti), serve it up in bowls, and cover it with a generous helping of the tomato gravy you just cooked the chicken in (and, yep!—cheese too!).