Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Food and Wine of Calabria #ItalianFWT

I received samples of Ciro Wine for the purposes of tasting and pairing for this blog post.  All opinions are my own.  This post is intended for adults over the age of 21. Please drink responsibly.

This rustic, spicy chicken dish, Chicken Calabrese, is named from the region where it originated in Italy.

Please join me and the other members of Italian FWT as we explore the foods, wine and travel of Calabria, Italy........
Calabria is located in the toe of the boot in soutwest Italy.  It is surrounded by oceans bordered with a rugged coastline.  It is warm, mountainous and beautiful with abundant waterfalls.

Reading about this area, which is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina, made me want to plan a trip.  It sounds so amazing.

I've never been to Italy.  I've never been to Europe.  It is on my bucket list and I fully intend to go one day.  The problem, if you want to call it a problem, with belonging to this and other wine groups is that every time I research an area I add it to my ever growing list of places to go and things to do when I do finally travel to Europe. At this rate we'll have to stay for 3 months LOL.

Calabria is home to the Calabria Pepper. It is a hot pepper and it is used to make a sausage called n'duja.  That sausage is turned into a paste and used in the recipe for Chicken Calabrese that I found online at BBC Food.

I didn't have any N'duja so I searched google for substitutes and ended up using diced pepperoni with the casing removed.  I have never had Chicken Calabrese so I have no idea if my dish tasted anything like it is supposed to but let me tell you......this is a delicious recipe!!!   I will be making it a regular part of the rotation around here.  Especially since the teen, who is not crazy about meat, ate 2 pieces of this chicken.

It is relatively easy to make and ready in less than an hour.  Once the stove top preparation is complete you put it into the oven to finish cooking.  I used the baking time to prepare mashed potatoes to go with the chicken.  I had put some squash in to roast before I started the stove top prep.  I placed the chicken in the oven with the squash and they were both ready to serve at the same time.

One of our members, Katarina of Grapevine Adventures, arranged with her friends from Ciro, Calabria to provide some of the bloggers in our group with samples of Ciro wine.  You can read more about that in her post about this area and it's wines.  I was lucky enough to receive 6 bottles of wines from Librandi Winery.  I received two bottles each of  Ciro Rosato DOC 2017, Ciro Rosso Classico DOC 2015 and Duca San Felice Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC 2013.  That is the Italian labeling for rose, red and a red reserve.

All of these wines are made with 100% Gaglioppo grapes.  The difference in color, taste and body are completely due to the wine making process.  This was very interesting to me.  I had a lot of fun trying these wines with different pairings throughout the past few weeks.

The first pairing I shared was a Jambalaya with the Rosato.  The Rosato is crisp and dry and paired perfectly with the Jambalaya that I made only mildly spicy since Frank is spice sensitive.  You can get the recipe and learn more about the pairing at this post.

Next, I paired the Rosso with a bowl of Tuscan White Bean Soup that I shared with you in this post.  This red wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  It is dry with a moderately heavy feel in the mouth.  It paired well with this soup and was enjoyed on it's own following dinner as well.

I wanted to save the Reserve to showcase in this post for today's event.  I knew I wanted to pair it with a food popular in the region where the grapes were grown and was happy to find and share the recipe for Chicken Calabrese.

It is a good rule of thumb to serve food and wine from the same area when conducting a tasting. This pairing was no exception.  It was sublime.  The chicken was slightly spicy albeit probably not as spicy as if I had used n'duja spread.  The wine, made from grapes grown in the Ponto area of Ciro is a deep red color and smells of fruit and spice.  It has a long finish and we enjoyed it very much. 

I think this wine, made from grapes with Greek roots, would also pair well with lamb.  I am hoping to save the second bottle of this Reserve for just that purpose.  I think perhaps I will cook up some kabobs for this occasion.

Should you be reading this post early enough, please join us for twitter chat at 11 AM ET today following #ItalianFWT.  Learn more about Gaglioppo wine in Calabria with the #ItalianFWT writers:

#chicken, #Italian, #peppers, #sausage,
Entrees, Chicken
Yield: 4 servingsPin it

Chicken Calabrese

This rustic, spicy chicken dish, Chicken Calabrese, is named from the region where it originated in Italy.
prep time: 10 minscook time: 40 minstotal time: 50 mins


2 T. flour
salt and pepper, to taste
8 chicken thighs
2 t. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 oz. pepperoni sausage, casing removed, cut into small dice
6-7 mini sweet peppers, seeded and quartered
2 T. tomato paste
2 c. chicken stock
small bunch chives, chopped
small bunch parsley, chopped


Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a bag.  Add the chicken thighs and shake to coat.  Heat the olive oil over med high heat.  Add the chicken and cook until crisp on all sides, about 8-10 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Drain all but 1 T. of drippings from the pan and return to heat.  Add the onions and pepperoni.  Cook until onions start to soften.  Add the peppers, tomato paste and chicken stock.  Cook and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Sprinkle in the chives and parsley.  

Remove pan from heat and place into a preheated 350* oven for about 20 minutes, until juices run clear when thighs are pierced.  


Adapted from a recipe found at BBC Food.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. Wow, Wendy, that looks delicious! Perfect dinner for a cold winter night. Sounds like the wines worked well with all of your dishes too.

  2. Looks like a great pairing...I am happy you enjoyed the Librandi wines

  3. Slurp!
    Very complete coulinary journey inside Calabria traditional food and wine!


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