This recipe is excellent for large groups but also can be scaled down to easily make this a dinner for two.
Chicken Vesuvius has been in my family for years, handed down from my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother and then into my hands and along the way there has not been one change made to it simply because, why mess around with ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. ☺
I can still smell all these flavors mixing together in the oven on Christmas Eve. Even as I am writing, I can smell the unbelievable aroma this dish leaves on all your senses, mind and heart. It is a flavor you will never forget.
The tastes of Italy are throughout this recipe and I am certain it will become a favorite in your home as well.
There are a lot of chefs and home cooks on the internet that make a version of this dish with peas, celery or other ingredients but what you will find here is the authentic way it has been done in my family’s home town of Bari, Italy and the only difference will be the type of local ingredients available in your town. My Grandfather told me the name is from the volcano in Italy (Mt. Vesuvius) which is very fitting considering the amount of ingredients in this dish and how they are placed all in one large roasting pan. As my mother would say, “Volcano Chicken” another name for this dish is “Chicken Vesuvio” which originated somewhere in Chicago. This is NOT that recipe. This is a 4 generation recipe (probably even further back) and now I am handing it down to all of you to continue the tradition.
I must tell you now, this is not a beginner recipe-this is part of my (Building recipe series) all your senses and skills are needed in cooking this dish, I have added links throughout this page for how to prepare the items needed to make it easier to follow, so it is time to get messy and make your kitchen smell like you just walked into an Italian home, or my home at Christmas
For my Beginners – Please take your time with this one, I would suggest to get your sausage done and all your vegetables except for the potatoes before you even start your chicken, yes you have a lot of time between but it sneaks up on you if you have to many things going at the same time and I want you to enjoy this. Space on some stoves do not allow for 3 large frying pans to be going at the same time also space for the roaster when it is time to pull it out and work the contents in the roaster – So, just do the steps ahead and have fun, I am here if you need me.
For those who want to get a jump on things, here is a few important elements of this dish to take note if doing any of the steps ahead of the day of serving;
1. Do NOT make the chicken or the Potatoes ahead of time since the flavors of the other ingredients need to infuse into the meat in the oven cooking stage and the potatoes will have lost their crunch
2. The Italian Sausage can be prepared ahead, even frozen after cooked but remember to keep the juices as instructed in that recipe link. If you did freeze them, thaw completely before use and follow along here.
3. The vegetables should all be sautéed separately, refrigerated separately and brought back to a warmer temp before use. Remember!!! Potatoes “MUST” be done the day of serving since the crispy goodness would be lost with refrigeration.
What You Will Need:
(If you are doing all the same day the list will help you get out what you will need)
Large Roasting Pan with handles for larger amounts – Medium to Small Roasting Pan for 2 to 4 servings
3 Medium or Large Frying Pans or you can use 1 large pan and will need to clean it between each cooking of the Vegetables
Large Serving Platter
Strainer for Vegies (for cleaning)
Large Freezer Bag 2 gallon size or larger
2 Cutting Boards
2 Sharp Knives (1 for chicken 1 for veggies)
2 Half Sheet Pans 1 lined with Parchment Paper the other with Paper Towels
Extra Sheets of Paper Towel to Pat dry Chicken after rinsing also to drain potatoes after frying
Large Plate with sides to hold cooked Sausage and Juices
1 Pair of Tongs
2 Wooden Spoons
1 Measuring Cup for water (Italian Sausage)
1 Splatter Screen (screen is optional – this I use when frying potatoes)
1 or 2 Solid Turner utensil I use 2 when it is time to turn the meat
1 Baster (may need this if enough oil still in pan)
- 4-5 Cups Seasoned Flour (Seasoned Flour for Multiple Uses)
- 3-4 Cups Extra Light Olive Oil
- 9 Tablespoons Extra light Olive Oil
- 2 Whole Cut Chickens or I used 1 Whole Cut Chicken plus 4 Large Chicken Breasts w/Skin and Bone
- 4 Green Peppers rinsed and cut as shown(Bell Pepper Cleaning and Prep)(Cutting Peppers for Different Dishes)
- 1 Lb. Whole Button Mushrooms (Also known as white mushroom or Agaricus bisporus) This is about 4-5 cups if medium sized if larger then increase to 1 ½ Lbs. Rinsed
- 2 Large White Onions Peeled and sliced as shown(How To’s – Making Translucent Onions)
- 1 Large Package Italian Sausage 12 Links (Not Hot!!) Sweet is ok but typically it is regular/mild
- 6 Yukon Gold Potatoes – (Peeled when it is time to not ahead – and cut into quarters as shown)
- 1 ½ Cups Canola Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste. I usually do not need to add any more since there is enough in the seasoned flour.
Preparation & Instructions:
If you only have 1 oven you will need to do this in steps since the sausage will need to be baked at a much lower temperature to get the caramelized texture required and to allow the juices to expel properly for use later in the main dish. If starting here please go to (How To Cook Italian Sausage In An Oven) then when your sausage is done come back here and continue on.
When I only had 1 oven I would cook my Italian sausage the day before or even had it baked and frozen a week before. Just follow the instructions on freezing and bringing it back before use, if you choose that method.
If you have 2 ovens then follow this recipe as instructed.
Rinse chicken under cold water and place on paper toweled half sheet pan and pat dry with extra paper towel continue this until all chicken is rinsed and dry. Place aside
Rinse with cold water all the Mushrooms, Peppers and wash the outside of the potatoes keep in colander until ready to use. This allows them time to dry. I dry my potatoes with extra paper towel. Meanwhile, prepare your Freezer bags with seasoned flour. (Seasoned Flour for Multiple Uses) Fill freezer bag with Seasoned Flour (Make the flour as instructed or it will be under seasoned) (DO NOT use a bowl for this step it will not coat the chicken properly and the seasoned flour will come off during the baking process) Freezer bags are thick and the bones will not punch through so do not make the mistake of using a regular type bag. You will have flour everywhere.
Place one piece of chicken in the bag at a time and close the top well – shake the flour around the chicken piece and lightly rub so it adheres to the outside of the chicken. Evenly coat the chicken piece even under the skin if possible. Open the bag and lightly shake off the piece and place on the other cookie sheet with parchment paper, repeat this with each piece of chicken one at a time for even coating. Smaller pieces like the drumsticks and thighs can be placed in together.
Place 2 cups of Light Olive Oil in Roasting pan and coat the bottom by tipping the pan so it covers, place the chicken in pan, breasts and thighs skin side up and the rest so it does not crowd the pan take another cup of Light Olive Oil and drizzle it over the top of the chicken – a little bit on each piece. Place in preheated oven. Check it in 20-25 minutes – If you are only making this for 2 check it in 15 minutes.
Please note that the cooking time is a guide – the whole idea of this blog is to teach you what to look for as well as smell for. Everyone’s oven bakes and cooks differently so use the pictures I have supplied to see what it should look like to guide you as well as the time.:)
This would be the time to start your Italian Sausage if you have 2 ovens. (How To Cook Italian Sausage In An Oven) Follow that recipe WHILE doing the rest below. Remember when they are done you do not cut them yet. Keep the Juices as shown in that recipe.
While the chicken is roasting and your sausages are on their way, start to prepare all the vegetables. If only using 1 sauté pan, start with the onions since you will need these first. If using 3 pans at the same time then do all the vegetables at the same time. It will take a tad longer on the mushrooms and peppers since they have a high water content.
Do not make the mistake of cooking all the vegetables together in one pan – this will ruin the finished meal and the flavors will not show themselves – trust me, I know (I tried it once – never again) They must be kept separate since the mushrooms and green peppers have too much liquid and will ruin your finished dish. Plus you want the independent flavors. Lastly they are added at different times to the main roaster.
Add 3 Tablespoons of Light Olive Oil to each fry pan. For the amount I am showing you. If you are doing the 2-4 servings then add half the amount.
Place the onions in a pan and follow this link (How To’s – Making Translucent Onions) Move them around so they get some coating of the olive oil.
Place the Mushrooms (whole) in another pan. Move them around so they get some coating of the olive oil.
Clean Peppers (Bell Pepper Cleaning and Prep) slice to thickness as shown. You would use Medium to Thick Cut as shown on Cutting Peppers for Different Dishes. Place in another fry pan Move them around so they get some coating of the olive oil.
For the Green Pepper pan, place heat/medium to high heat. Mushrooms should be at a medium heat and Onions are at a low/medium heat.
Remember to keep moving them around in the pan. I use the tongs for the onions since it makes it easier to grab and move them around, peppers and mushrooms I use a wooden spoon.
Once you have your pans going it may be time to check your chicken since you need to shake the pan and be sure the chicken is not sticking to the bottom. It should be about 20-25 minutes after you began the chicken. Here is what it will look like. (15 minutes for dinner for 2)
“Just a friendly reminder 🙂 Have you checked your sausages??” By this time you should have turned them a few times according to the Italian sausage recipe and have added some more water unless you started out with frozen ones.
Pull the whole roaster out of your oven and place on heat resistant surface.
Use your solid turner and loosen the bottoms of each piece DO NOT FLIP them yet just loosen. Now take your roaster and give it a good shake from side to side so the pieces move freely in the pan. Place back in the oven another 30 – 40 minutes. (25 minutes for dinner for 2)
Time to check your vegetables. There is no exact time on how long to cook each vegetable since water content, humidity of your kitchen, the pans you are using and so many variables can change how long it will take so sight, smell, and feel is how you know when they are ready.
I have pictures of before and after so you know what to look for. You are only cooking the Green peppers until you see a slight frying on the outside of the pepper meat. Almost like white spots with subtle browning move them around and proceed to the mushrooms.
Mushrooms should have reduced a bit and a very small amount of fluid is on the bottom of the pan.
The onions should be getting less crisp and starting to wilt slightly. If they are starting to brown your heat is too high. You are only cooking your mushrooms and green peppers to al dente, still firm in the center and still holding their shape.
You should almost be there by now. But time to turn your Chicken. If you think it will take you to long to turn each piece then turn the heat off on all your fry pans or reduce the heat to very low for now and when the chicken is back in the oven turn it back on or up to finish. Do not take the risk of over cooking those perfect vegetables at this point.
While you are checking your chicken might as well check your sausages as well. Be sure to rotate them for even caramel coloring also add more water as instructed.
When pulling your roaster out again, place on heat resistant surface, I have trivets or hot pads even dry kitchen towels will work. Using your solid turner/s (NOT TONGS you will destroy the coating) I use two of them to guide my pieces as I turn them. Flip over to the other side, You should see crispy beginnings on the side that was down. After flipping them over drizzle ½ cup of light olive oil over the top of each piece, If you have a lot of oil on the bottom of the roaster use a baster instead and do not add any more oil – give it a good shake again and place it back in the oven. Re-check in about 25-30 minutes (20 min dinner for 2)
Your sausages are probably done by now so place aside in a dish with juices poured over them. Just friendly reminder. 🙂
After you place your roaster back in the oven – Back to your veggies! If you turned the heat off or down return to normal heating and proceed. There is a good chance at this point they are done if you left the heat on.
Onions should have a translucency to them and fully wilting, turn off heat and place pan aside.
Green peppers should still be stiff and firm centered but have slight browning starting on the outside meat, turn off heat place pan aside.
Mushrooms should be reduced in size, no water on bottom of pan and should just be before browning, turn off heat and place pan aside.
For those who only used 1 fry pan, when you are done cooking each vegetable place in separate bowls with any juices that remain. Remember SEPARETLY !! (yes 3 bowls)
If cooking these ahead this is the time you would cool them down and place them in “separate” airtight covered storage bowls, then place in refrigerator up to 3 days prior.
If you had them refrigerated this would be the time you place them in the separate fry pans to bring them to room temperature and ready for the main roaster. You would not need to add any oil since you stored them in the oil they originally were cooked in. Just place in pans and on low bring to heated through. This is also the time you want to get your Italian sausage warmed also if you had baked it ahead of time. Place in a microwave safe dish that has a lid and place all the sausage with the saved juices in for about 1-2 minutes. Place aside for when you are instructed to add it to the roaster.
After the 25-30 minutes, time to add the translucent Onions to the roasting pan. Pull out your roaster and flip your chicken pieces back over the other side should be nice and golden now, shake the pan then add all your onions to the roaster. Place them AROUND ALL the chicken pieces not on them, place back in oven for about 15-20 minutes.
If you are not seeing a nice Golden Crispness on parts of the chicken then DO NOT add the onions yet. Let them roast for another 15-20 minutes before doing the above step.
While the onions are in the roaster cooking their flavor into the chicken it is time to start your Potatoes – You only have 20 minutes to peel your potatoes if you chose this – so you need to work fast here. Yet another reason I leave the skins on plus there is more taste and nutrition with the skins on.
Do not prep the potatoes sooner since you cannot have them in water before they go into a frying pan. Cut as shown first in half then in 1/4’s
Place the canola oil into the fry pan and get it to frying heat about 300°F.
Once you cut your potatoes – pull out the roaster this is how they should look – see how it is deeper golden?
Add the sautéed mushrooms and peppers give it a good shake place back in the oven. Coming into the home stretch now. 🙂
Test the oil before adding the potatoes or they will stick to the bottom of the pan. Take a small piece of potato and place it in the oil if it starts to sizzle right away the oil is ready if not wait before adding and test again. Add all the potatoes and cover with splatter screen as shown below.
See the bubbles ??? Perfect heat
When one side of the potatoes are golden time to turn them to another side and continue this until all sides are nice and golden brown as shown. Half way through the cooking process of the potatoes, cut your Italian sausage in half on the diagonal and place them into the roaster as well. Let them heat for the last 15 minutes. Give the pan a shake do not try to mix with a spoon. Just Shake it to blend from side to side.
The main point to the potatoes is to have them done at the same time the roaster is done and you are ready to serve.
Your potatoes go on the finished plate so when they are done let them drain on paper towels first to remove any excess oils.
Once the Italian sausage are hot in the roaster it is time to plate your serving dish.
Lay out all the pieces of Chicken and then spoon the other ingredients around the meat and finish with those crispy potato wedges and serve. The flavor of the crust mixed with everything is just short of amazing. Enjoy
Hints to help you pull it together for large events:
You can place all the roasting contents in a Nesco – Once it is done place on medium temperature with a lid that is slightly opened so the chicken stays crunchy, add the potatoes still just before serving. This would give you at least 40 minutes to get ready before your guests arrive and do the potatoes after they arrive. The potatoes only take about 20 minutes to fully cook through but your main dish is done. Just add them to the top of the Nesco if you are serving buffet style or add them to the guests dish as they pass through.
Another way is place the potatoes on a cookie sheet and place them in the oven to stay crisp but no longer than 15 minutes or they could get over done or dry. I have done both ways with great success especially when serving large events or parties.