Bottega’s Chicken Wings Agrodolce

January 14th, 2012  |  Cluck cluck, Family Dinner  |  0 Comments

But back to Chiarello--I've actually always loved him since tuning into his early morning entertaining spot on Food Network several years ago.  He always seems to have such an easy way about him...his meals and entertaining ideas were never fussy and I always thought about how I'd love to have dinner at his house.

And then, about two months ago, I sort of did when I had dinner at his restaurant, Bottega.  Bottega is not just a restaurant Chiarello puts his name on and then goes off to do other things {well, except for Iron Chef..... which he was totally too good for anyway}.  He's there all the time apparently, but I was floored to see how he treated me and the rest of our table as though we were the only people in the room.  As I watched him move around the room, I realized that he was making every single table in the restaurant feel the exact same way.  That's just how amazing HE on to his food.....

O---M---G {hey, sometimes its necessary} it was hands down the most delicious and amazing meal I've had in my lifetime.  The wine, the ricotta gnocchi, the zeppole {imagine the best doughnut you've ever tasted, then imagine switching the sweet taste into savory--and that's zeppole}, the pesto arancini bites, the ricotta gnocchi.  Oh, did I already say the ricotta gnocchi?  Well, it was worth a second mention and the ricotta gnocchi was awesome too.

Seriously, I thought I had died and gone to Foodie Heaven.  And then, I found out there was a cookbook--a Bottega cookbook--one with all of the recipes I fell in love with while dining there and a whole {beautiful} book of even more!

There's a very good chance that I will make just about every recipe in the book {a very big deal since usually I only end up making a handful of recipes out of any cookbook I own} and so I started with the very first appetizer recipe....and turned it into dinner.  Chicken Wings Agrodolce.

I know what you are thinking--you got Michael Chiarello's Bottega cookbook and the first recipe you made was for CHICKEN WINGS?  Are you crazy, Amy?    I wish I could express myself better, but I know without a doubt that I won't be disappointed in anything in this book, and I happened to have some chicken wings in the freezer that needed to be cooked.  {And I may have been drawn to Chiarello's reference/comparison to Kung Pao chicken in his intro to the recipe--is there anyone who doesn't love a good Kung Pao?}

But make no mistake, this recipe doesn't taste Kung Pao-ish, but the confluence of the tart and sweet embodied with the fennel seed and the crunchiness of the coating and the tender, juiciness of the chicken all contributed to make each and every bite completely mind-blowing and different than anything I've tasted before.  So let's get started...


This is the crunchy outer breading of the wings.


1 cup Arborio rice {used for making risotto}
1 cup semolina flour {I found mine at Sprout's Market}
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons table salt {Chiarello was specific to use table salt and not kosher or sea salt--I'd trust the man}
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



In a blender, grind the rice until very fine, to a flour-like consistency.  Shake the ground rice flour into a large bowl and add the semolina, all-purpose flour, table salt, and pepper.  Toss until well mixed and set aside.

I used my food processor instead of the blender and it took a good 10 minutes before the arborio rice flour got to the right consistency.

Court Bouillon

I know it sounds time consuming, but following the recipe exactly as he presents it will guarantee you the juiciest chicken you've ever tasted, so though you may be inclined to skip a step, I would advise against it.  Plus, once you pull the chicken from the stock, you'll be able to make a delicious chicken noodle soup the following day with the leftover broth.  The only adjustment I made to this entire recipe is that I used about 40 peppercorns instead of the 10 that were called for.

See the difference between 10 peppercorns and 40 peppercorns?  For some reason, 10 peppercorns just didn't seem like enough--especially with all of the beautiful vegetables that go into the stock.


2 cups diced yellow onions (about 2 large onions)
1 cup diced peeled carrots
1 cup diced celery
8 cups cold water
10 {or 40} black peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt, [gray salt if you have it] or kosher salt
1 fresh sprig thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 lbs chicken wings


In a large stockpot, combine the onions, carrot, celery, water, peppercorns, salt and thyme and bring to a boil over high heat.  As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the chicken stand in the liquid until cool, at least 30 minutes.  [DO NOT be in a hurry to pull the chicken from the pot too soon or your chicken will be dry.  Chiarello says you want it to stay in the stock so that it will stay tender and juicy.... and tender and juicy it was!].

Agrodolce Sauce


1 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar {I used white wine vinegar}
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
Pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chile {I couldn't find this at my spice shop, so I used the recommended replacement--dried red pepper flakes}


In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the onion, fennel seeds, and salt:  reduce the heat to medium-low; and simmer until it reaches the consistency of maple syrup, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chiles.  Taste and add more chile if you like it very spicy.  If you don't like spicy, then reduce the amount of red pepper flakes to 1/4 teaspoon.

Final Assembly


Corn, peanut, canola or any neutral oil for deep-frying {I used vegetable}
2 cups buttermilk


In a large, heavy pot, heat 3 inches of oil over high heat until it registers 375 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer.  Pour the buttermilk into a shallow bowl and half of the fritti flour in another shallow bowl {the rest of the fritti flour can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer until you are ready to make these again or until you make the Cauliflower Fritti I'll be eventually making with the rest of mine!}.

Dip each piece of chicken into the buttermilk and then roll it in the fritti flour to coat.  Cook about 6 coated chicken wings at a time in the hot oil until just slightly darker than the color of honey all the way around, about 4-6 minutes.  Using tongs, transfer the wings from the oil to the agrodolce sauce and turn them to coat evenly.  Shake off the excess and transfer the wings to a plate.  Repeat to cook the remaining wings.  Serve hot.


Sidenote:   If this recipe just seems too intense, but you love chicken wings and would like to experience this incredible sauce, you could just fry the wings in the oil until cooked through and then toss with the agrodolce sauce.  You won't experience the most tender and juicy chicken of your life, and you might miss out on the perfect crunch of the fritti coating, but I can assure you that you will most certainly not be dissappointed in the fabulosity of this agrodolce sauce! 

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