Fragments of 53m terracotta amphorae, once containing olive oil, make up Mount Testaccio in Rome. The hill was built between the first century BC and the third century AD, when billions of liters of oil from Baetica (modern Spain), Tripolitania (Libya) and Byzacena (Tunisia) were imported into imperial Rome. It was not just oil for drizzling leaves, but fuel for an empire – for lamps, cleanliness, balm, perfume, and medicine. After the oil had been decanted, the impregnated amphorae could not be reused – which is why they were crushed and, in highly organized piling feats, turned into a carefree rising hill, the Leonard Cohen of historic landmarks in the middle of Rome. .
Over the centuries, the hill – which is 35 meters and has a circumference of 800 meters – has come to life of its own: grass, shrubs and trees have taken root in the slopes; restaurants, clubs and mechanics at its base. Depending on where you approach it, Mount Testaccio may look like a wilderness of the forest, a center of charming trattorias, a scruffy, scruffy grove, an urban farm or a well-organized exhibition. It is from within the other unlikely landmark of Testaccio, a former slaughterhouse, that you can better understand the mound, the broken pieces of pot visible on the slopes.
The slaughterhouse and the pot hill are just two of the many reasons why Testaccio feels so edible. I thought it appropriate that I walk by to see a man about a chicken recipe in olive oil.
Domenico Cortese comes from Tropea, an almost tiptoeing city in Italy's boot, famous for its sweet red onions. The eldest of five children, his grandfather and father, were butchers, and he grew up around the family store. He learned his father's vocation and found that it was not his. His career as a chef is a kind of careful stack of experiences: close to his mother as a child; in hotels as a teenager; as a dishwasher and chef at an Italian restaurant called Messina in Rotterdam; as private chef of the Argentine ambassador in Rome; head of a police canteen; sous chef at the American Academy of Rome; running a dinner club with his partner and Danish baker, Sophie.
Now they have their own place, Marigold, which seems to be the culmination of all layers of experience and hard work: an oasis of exceptional food, just beyond the hill of oil vases. While Domenico's great skill is undoubtedly pasta and vegetables, I particularly appreciate the use of herbs and citrus fruits, and the way he reveals the flavor, which is apparent in this, his recipe for chicken with lots of herbs, lemon, orange and ginger, sott boiled olio – in oil, or confit.
Domenico is unequivocal about the use of extra virgin olive oil for its unparalleled taste and handling: the oil diffuses heat better than air, which is why confined and cooked meat is so soft, almost velvety, rich, but surprisingly not greasy. . With cost in mind, he admits that you could use half olive oil / half vegetable oil. Anyway, it should almost cover the legs (about 800 ml) – only the top of the skin should be above the oil.
Another pleasure of this dish is the smell, in the preparation and at the end of cooking, when blackened herbs, garlic, wrinkled strips of citrus and ginger make olive oil strive like a balm or kitchen medicine as it always has. Domenico sends me away with the last two portions of chicken, which are stored in oil for days or weeks if I put them in a jar. As we drive home, I can feel them sway and sway in olive oil as we pass the hill of oil vases.
Chicken confit (pollo sott'olio)
Preparation 20 min
Cook 3h 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
4 chicken legs, approximately 220g each
Salt and pepper
Small thyme and sage curls
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 inches ginger, peeled, cut into thick slices.
800 ml extra virgin olive oil or a mixture of olive oil / vegetable oil
The day before, season the chicken carefully and generously, rubbing salt and pepper all over the leg, paying special attention to the meat near the bone. Put in a container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pull the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking. Choose an oven-proof casserole or large enough to accommodate your legs in a single layer. At the bottom of the dish, make a bed of herbs, lemon and orange zest (the best is the peeler), garlic and ginger. Place the chicken on top with the skin facing up and pour over the oil, which should submerge all the skin except the top of the chicken.
Place in the middle oven rack at 180 ° C (160 ° C fan) / 350F / gas 4 for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 140C (120C) / 275F / gas 1 for three hours.
After cooking, let the chicken rest for at least an hour. To serve, lift the oil legs with a slotted spoon, allowing excess oil to drip back onto the plate.
. (tagsToTranslate) Food (t) Italian Food & Drink (t) Chicken (t) Main Course