New Jersey's Own Chicken Savoy
This is a very popular dish on menus in local Italian restaurants, but what I didn't realize was that this dish is local only to the Garden State! (That would be New Jersey).
It originated at the Belmont Tavern, a still good, old school, Italian American neighborhood restaurant with red & white checkered tablecloths in Belleville, NJ (some people say it's in Newark). It was created by a cook named Stretch and people remember it well.
We used to frequent there in college and eat cavatelli with pot cheese, clams oreganata and the famous Chicken Savoy. (I guess the "Savoy" has nothing to do with the luxury hotel in London).
This is pretty close to Stretch's original recipe, which I found on the Saveur website, but since most of us don't own restaurant commercial ovens that go to 700F degrees, it may not be as authentic as the original, but it was damn close.
There is a ton of vinegar in the recipe, which is what makes it good, and you have to use chicken pieces on the bone, don't bother with the boneless stuff, it will dry out.
I made mine in a cast iron skillet and it was as good as I remember.
I could only fit 4 pieces of chicken in my skillet. You don't want to crowd them, so use the largest skillet you have.
Belmont Tavern Chicken Savoy: (adapted from Saveur)
1 3–4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic
1⁄3 cup finely grated pecorino
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 cup red wine vinegar
Heat oven to 500F˚. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
In a small food processor, finely chop together garlic along with pecorino, 3 tbsp. of the olive oil, oregano, and thyme. Set herb paste aside.
Heat remaining 1 tbsp. of oil in a 12" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over with tongs.
Using a spoon, smear the chicken skin with the herb paste.
Transfer skillet to oven and cook until well browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
I had to remove my smoke alarm because the smoke filled the house, so make sure you use your exhaust fan.
Remove skillet from oven; pour out fat. Add vinegar while the pan is still hot; spoon vinegar sauce over chicken. Transfer chicken to a platter and pour vinegar sauce over it.
The tops of the skin may be a bit blackened, but it doesn't detract from the wonderful flavor.
I garnished with fresh oregano leaves.