For this dish I prefer Luganica, a thin (about 1/2-inch-wide) pork sausage seasoned only with salt and pepper and without seeds. If that is unavailable, use the wider (about 1-inch-thick) sweet pork sausages, preferably made without aromatic seeds of any kind. Cut the smaller Luganica into 1-inch lengths and the wider sausages into ½-inch lengths.
When I cook whole chicken, or any chicken on the bone, I always salt it three times: in its raw state, when I first begin to cook it and as it finishes cooking. It seems that the first two saltings are absorbed and somewhat dissipated, especially if you add additional ingredients as the chicken cooks. The last salting should be to balance the whole act. Each time you salt, it should be done judiciously to avoid oversalting and ruining the dish.
- 2 frying chickens (about 3 pounds each and preferably free-range)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound sweet Italian sausage (see Note above)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound small red bliss potatoes (about 12), washed and cut in half
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Cut each chicken into 12 pieces. Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry, then season them generously with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned on all sides, about 3 minutes for thinner sausages or 5 minutes for wider sausages. Remove the sausage pieces with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold all the sausage, chicken and potatoes comfortably while allowing room for stirring. (An 18 x 15-inch roasting pan is ideal.) Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and add as many pieces, skin side down, to the skillet as will fit in a single layer. Cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining chicken pieces as room becomes available. When all the chicken has been browned, add the potatoes, cut side down and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer those to the roasting pan as well.
Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of the knife and scatter them and the rosemary over the contents of the roasting pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast 15 minutes, stirring gently occasionally. Sprinkle the chicken, sausage and potatoes with the vinegar and continue roasting, stirring gently occasionally, until everything is very well browned, the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Prop up one end of the roasting pan and let rest 5 minutes. Spoon off the excess fat from the roasting pan, sprinkle the parsley over everything and transfer to a warm serving platter. Serve immediately.