Donatella’s Angry Chicken

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Donatella Platoni invited me to her country house near Perugia to eat this peppery chicken stew. When I arrived, she was talking to the butcher on the telephone and holding the chickens he had just delivered. The stomachs of these birds showed no trace of grain, the proof that they have been properly fed. She reprimanded the butcher for this, and for cutting them up with a knife instead of a cleaver. Small, cleavered pieces are more manageable with a fork and knife. Donatella sent back the birds and a new batch came back within the hour.

2 to 4 people

Cooking Methodbraising, stewing


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, kosher, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, hot & spicy, meaty, savory, winey


  • 2 young free-range or organic chickens with giblets, 1½ to 2 pounds each, cut into serving pieces, or 1 larger free-range or organic chicken with giblets, about 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 small bunch fresh rosemary, or ½ teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 large cloves garlic, crushed but left whole
  • 1 small dried red chile, or pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ small onion, cut into wedges with core attached
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup peeled, seeded, and chopped plum tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste


  1. Rinse the chicken pieces and dry well. Trim any dark spots, fat, and membrane from the liver(s) and heart(s) and cut them into quarters. Trim the tough outer layer from the gizzard(s) and chop. If using the rosemary bunch, hold the sprigs together parallel to one another and wind kitchen string from one end to the other to prevent the leaves from separating from the sprigs. Set the chicken, giblets, and rosemary bundle aside.

  2. In a cold, deep, heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to accommodate the chicken without crowding (or use two smaller skillets), combine the olive oil, garlic, and whole chile or red pepper flakes and warm over medium low heat. When the oil is hot enough to make the onion sizzle, add the onion and rosemary bundle or dried rosemary and sauté gently until the mixture is aromatic and the garlic and onion are nicely softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. At this point, add the chicken and giblets, raise the heat to medium, and sauté to brown nicely on all sides, about 20 minutes.

  3. Pour in the wine and use a wooden spoon to stir all the ingredients together, taking care not to puncture the chicken pieces or break them up. Use gentle motions to detach any piece that may stick to the bottom of the pan, so as to leave all the pieces intact. When the alcohol has evaporated, after about 3 minutes, add the tomatoes, distributing them evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes longer.

  4. Season with the salt and transfer to a warmed platter. Serve the chicken very hot.


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