Tough chicken in Chicken Scarpiello
I think I may be chicken cursed, but after having this dish at Rao's (the one in Vegas, not lucky enough for the real one in NY), I have tried to make it several times using the recipe it their cook book.
The sauce, sausage, etc are all great, but the chicken is tough or rubbery. I keep thinking that I am over cooking it, but this time I took it out when it registered 150 or so. (The first time I measured 160)
In general, you are supposed to keep the chicken in the whole time, and cook it with the onions, peppers, wine, etc and then basically plate, no resting.
Watching Anne Burrell make this, it seems like she cooked it way beyond that point simmering it in the liquid for 15 or so minutes after browing it heavily.
So in general, I am confused.
A) I was thinking cutting the chicken into smaller peices may help, or finding a smaller bird, even though that seems to be getting harder.
B) This time I started with a bit hotter pan/oil. Is it better to cook smaller peices of chicken (whole bird cut up into about 12 peices) hot and fast, or low and longer?
C) Or is the point of this dish to almost over cook the meat long enough that it just starts to break down like a pot roast.
8 - 10 pieces of chicken is the usual for this recipe. No need to cut them smaller. You can also use just skin-on thighs. Brown them on all sides till golden, this should take about 15 minutes. Remove them from pan and make your sauce, etc. Add back the sausages and chicken pieces at the very end and simmer everything to reduce the sauce somewhat and concentrate the flavors.
this is a pretty straightforward cooking technique. just brown the chicken, remove it, brown the onions and stuff, then add the liquid and the chicken back to the pot. the final cook step is just to cook the chicken through.
it's possible you're over-cooking it. it shouldn't be boiling all along, just simmering. it will only take about 15 minutes or so, regardless of what it looked like on tv. this is just like a quick braise.
it will never break down like pot roast because chicken doesn't have the amount of collagen and connective tissue that beef does.
I've discovered that when I use organic chicken, it does not get tender. (Maybe they run around the yard too much and develop tough muscles?) So, I just buy the best non-organic chicken I can find.
My guess is that the term "simmer" may be causing you some difficulty. If your simmer is rapid your heat may be too high. The simmer for this recipe is very slow with agitation of liquids only modestly detectable. You don't mention if all of the chicken pieces are tough and rubbery or if it's just the breasts (which cook much faster than the other chicken parts). If you entire chicken was tough and rubbery don't fault yourself or the recipe, find another source for a good quality bird.