Giambotta & Other Pan Roasted & Chicken Recipes

Mom's Giambotta
Pan Roasted Chicken, Rabbit or Meatballs
Chicken with White Wine
Pan Roasted Turkey Breast Meatballs

Giambott' the slang for Giambotta is much more than a stew or "mixture" as translated in some Italian dialects.  In our family it was a catch all dish made with any variety of leftover and uncooked meats and poultry.  Whenever mom rummaged through our freezer, we assumed we were having giambotta for dinner soon.    

Originated in southern Italy, many view giambotta as a vegetable only dish.  Mom and our relatives made it with a variety of meats and poultry along with vegetables.  In its simplest form, they mostly made it with chicken and Italian sausages but often included pork, rabbit, beef, lamb, veal or other poultry.  Potatoes, bell peppers, and onions were their most favored vegetables but could include zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, etc.  Our giambotta started with lots of olive oil, garlic and Italian spices.  Final dish not only has those flavors but includes natural cooking juices to be enjoyed with bread.  Other Italians made giambotta with a tomato base.  Theirs were more like stews.

Even small communities had their own version of giambotta.  Seggiano in the Tuscany region make "Scottiglia alla perscinale".  It traditionally has a sauce of ground tomato and a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, turkey rabbit and/or lamb and traditional Battuta ingredients, carrots, onion, and celery but cut in hunks not minced.

Even the name giambotta isn't without controversy.  Some regions spell it ciambotta.

Any way you call it, it's delicious.  I'm partial to the way mom prepared her giambotta.  I especially love the texture of her sautéed chicken and sausages, crisp vegetables, roasted potatoes, plenty of flavored olive oil and heat from lots of red pepper flakes.  Fortunately, all versions are really good.

I know I'm being repetitive, but garlic and olive oil are so basic in Italian cooking that I almost always use "Pete's Garlic Oil" as my base.  It is olive oil infused with slowly cooked pan roasted garlic and Tuscany seasoning (sage and rosemary).  Salt and red pepper flakes add additional intensity.               
Giambotta is a terrific belly satisfying home style meal.  It's rustic Italian and ingredients needs to be preped in larger pieces, usually requiring knives and forks when eaten.

Be sure to also check out another recipe below, "Pan Roasted Chicken, Rabbit or Meatballs".  Technically not Giambotta but is prepared similarly.  It was a frequent staple and favorite in our house.  Mom also prepared it with olive oil and garlic, and lots of heat from hot red pepper derived from "stringed" dried cherry peppers available in most North End grocery stores.  It was always served with a large loaf of Italian or French crusty bread.       


Mom's Giambotta
.... modified slightly (forgive me Mom).

Although giambotta can be made with any mixture of uncooked meats or poultry, our family's most popular was Italian sausages and chicken. 

North end residents often patronized butcher shops based on the quality of their sausages.  If they didn't grind, season, and stuff their sausages where visible, mom questioned the shop's credibility; what fillers could be hidden inside. 

Although far from any farms, we had the freshest chickens and rabbits.  The "chicken house" near what's now Faneuil Hall Marketplace offered them live.  They slaughtered, cleaned and cut them in pieces upon request.

Although mom would use any variety of vegetables for this dish, I prefer peppers and onions.  They go best with Italian sausages and neither are mushy when cooked properly.  Use of potatoes are a given.

One technique our family used to cook sausages was to cover them in water first when pan cooked.  Under high heat the water would evaporate and the sausages would begin to brown.  I still use that technique but usually use chicken broth and only cover them less than half way up their sides.  Once the broth evaporates, add oil and lower heat for final cooking.

I don't like overcooked vegetables.  Because cooking times differ by vegetable, I usually cook each separately and combine at them when finalizing the dish.  For giambotta, potatoes can either be cooked in the same pan used for all the other ingredients or can be oven baked while cooking the rest of the dish.  Where they take a little longer to brown and cook through, I usually favor oven baking especially in larger quantities.   

Lastly, I like to add some chicken broth to the final dish to moisten the potatoes slightly, add additional flavor and increase the volume of sauce.  That's a personal choice. 

Olive oil alone flavored with herbs, lots of red pepper flakes, salt, and concentrated juices from vegetables was too precious to dilute with other additives for my family.

Giambotta is a great unexpected addition to a casual cookout.  This recipe will easily serve 8 people especially when more traditional cookout foods are also offered. 

Quantities of ingredients can easily be scaled down.  My local stores sell 20-oz. packages of five Italian sausages.  The recipe below recommends 2 1/2 pounds (2 20-oz. packages or about 10).  The recipe also recommends about 2 1/2 pounds of boneless and skinless chicken breast halves.  Pending the size of each half breast, that's usually 4 or 5 pieces.

Giambotta is meant to be a rustic dish made to fill your belly and comfort your soul.  Cut ingredients large enough to reflect that and give the dish ample amounts of heat from red pepper flakes.

Use "Pete's Garlic Oil", pan roasted garlic and garlic infused olive oil instead of plain olive oil.  It does wonders for Giambotta. 

Pete's Garlic oil
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium head garlic
  • 4 or 5 sage leaves
  • 1 3" sprig rosemary
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
Option, use 1 teaspoon each of dried sage dried rosemary to replace fresh sage and rosemary.  

Main ingredients:
  • 3 medium russet potatoes
  • Just enough additional plain olive oil to coat potatoes for baking
  • 2 1/2 pounds' mild Italian sausages (about 10)
  • 2 1/2 pounds, 4 or 5 skinless and boneless half chicken breasts
  • 2 or 3 red, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Optional, 1 cup chicken broth. 
Pete's garlic oil, separate cloves and remove their rough ends.  Cut each lengthwise and retain their skins.  Place them in a butter melting style pot.  Add the remaining garlic oil ingredients.  Place on medium heat just until the olive oil begins to simmer (only a couple of minutes).  Lower heat and maintain a slow simmer.       

Remove garlic skins when they are released and their flavor extracted.  Continue simmering until the cloves are tanned and soft, with the consistency similar to oven baked garlic.  You can adjust the temperature slightly to hasten or slow down tanning time but monitor the pot's progress frequently.  Be careful not to burn or "crust" the garlic.  When ready to use, remove the sage and rosemary from the pot if using fresh.   

Potatoes, do not remove their skin.  Just before baking, clean them under cold running water with a vegetable brush.  Dry and cut them into larger cubes.  Do not preserve them in a bowl of water.  Coat in olive oil and place them in a baking pan and into a 350º oven.  Bake them until cooked through and toasted, turning them over frequently.

Meanwhile place whole sausages in a large sauté pan.  Place water or low salt chicken up to about a third of the sides of the sausages.  Cook over medium high heat, turning sausages occasionally.  When liquid evaporates and sausages begin to brown, lower heat and add some of the oil only from Pete's Garlic Oil.  Cook all sides.  When just cooked through, place them in a bowl.  When cool to the touch, cut them into 1 inch pieces being careful to capture any of their juices.  

Cut chicken into stocky pieces and place in the cooking pan.  When chicken is browned outside, cover pan over lower heat until chicken is cooked tender.  Remove to the sausage bowl. 

Remove onion tips and skin and cut it into larger 1 inch cubes.  Sauté them until they are soft and transparent.  Remove them to the bowl.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise.  Remove top cores and white membranes.  Cut peppers into larger cubes.  Cook until pepper pieces start to soften.  Also place them in the bowl. 

Add the remaining oil from Pete's Garlic oil and roasted garlic cloves to taste (when roasted they become mild).  Optionally, add about 1/2 cup or more chicken broth  Heat to a sizzle then add the potatoes and all cooked contents of the bowl including all residual juices.  Reheat well while mixing and adjust for heat (red pepper flakes) and salt.  Serve with a proud smile.     


Pan Roasted Chicken, Rabbit, or Meatballs
Cooked in Spicy Hot Olive Oil and Garlic

We enjoyed pan roasted chicken, rabbit or meatballs just about every week.  Mom would buy freshly slaughtered chicken or rabbit from the chicken house.  It took us the better part of a half hour to walk there.  Ironically, it was located in the same block Mom eventually moved to.   Whenever I visited her apartment, I always thought about what that semi-industrial neighborhood looked like before developers and the City of Boston turned it into prime real estate.  Fortunately, a small number of apartments were allocated for low income residents of the North End.   

Mom and I would always rush home to preserve her fresh purchase safely into our refrigerator.  If rabbit, she always soaked it in salted water for an hour or longer to make it safe for consumption.  Interesting, rabbits were farm raised and didn't need that step.  However, it was a classical brining process that kept the rabbit moist through pan roasted.

Just about every North End grocery stores sold red cherry peppers that were strung like a neckless, pierced through their stems.  As needed, Mom would break a pepper off its stem.  She always kept her peppers on a nail on the inside door of her kitchen cupboard.  Aunt Julia taught me how to best extract their heat and flavors.  She would place a dried pepper in her cast iron pan and dry sauté one for a few minutes while rotating.  She then would seal in aluminum foil until ready to use.  When applied, she would break the whole pepper by hand into the hot oil.  She would always warn (every time), "wash your hands good".  

Once again, use "Pete's Garlic Oil".  The infused oil and pan roasted garlic works so perfect with this great dish.  Use the same proportions and techniques used in the above recipe to make Giambotta.  Have it ready well before preparing this dish.  Remember Pete's Garlic Oil by itself makes great bread dipping oil.  Kick up the heat of the final dish with more red pepper flakes to your comfort level.

When served, Mom's cast iron skillet was placed in the center of our kitchen table, well within all our reach.  We would select and plate our favorite pieces and we all would mup up the sauce with bread right from the cast iron pan.           

As I frequently say, if peasant food is this good, why bother making exotic?                    


  • Pete's Garlic Oil, same proportions and instructions as the recipe above
  • 1 whole chicken cut in pieces retaining their skin (can substitute rabbit or homemade meatballs*)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • Additional red pepper flakes, salt and/or Tuscany seasoning

* If using meatballs, refer to the chapter on "Tomato Sauce".  Meatball Recipe is with "Sunday's Meat Sauce".  
A couple hours ahead, make Pete's Garlic following the recipe and proportions above.

Rinse chicken thoroughly over cold running water.  Dry completely.

In a pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, pour enough garlic oil (just the oil) to sauté the chicken.  Brown chicken on both sides over moderate heat, skin side first.  Remove pan from heat let it cool down enough to protect you from splatters).  Add either chicken broth or white wine.  Return to heat.  When it starts to simmer, cover until chicken is cooked through and tender.

If using fresh rosemary and sage, remove them from the garlic oil pot and pour the remaining olive oil and garlic cloves to taste (cloves become mild when roasted.  

Reheat well while rotating the chicken pieces to moisten on all sides.   Finalize seasoning with additional pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Adjust to your personal taste preference.  I like mine hot.


Chicken with White Wine
This is very quick and simple dish made with few ingredients, and like the other recipes in this section, one skillet meals.  The French have a similar version called Poulet Sauté Provencal.  There's usually includes shallots.  I hate to generalize but when a recipe uses lots of garlic and oil, I think Italian; using shallots shouts French! 

This recipe can be made with a whole chicken, trimmed and cut into convenient serving size pieces or with chicken breast halves.  I like to cut breast halves into two or three hunks depending on their sizes. 

My family didn't seem to be overly concerned about cholesterol like most of us are now.  Perhaps they should have.  They rarely removed chicken skins.  You certainly can go skinless but the skin does add additional taste and texture.           
  • 1 chicken fryer, about 3 pounds trimmed and cut into convenient size pieces or 4 chicken breast halves, each cut in half across their middles
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Tuscany seasoning or a teaspoon each dry sage and rosemary leaves.  If available, use fresh sage leaves and rosemary needles, 2 teaspoons each.
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup white wine.  
  • salt and pepper
Rinse chicken under cold water and dry thoroughly.  Brush lightly with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with Tuscany seasoning (or sage and rosemary).  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
Place remaining olive oil into a skillet.  Core, peel and slice garlic cloves.  Sauté the garlic until lightly tanned; discard.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the oil.  Add chicken, skin side down.  Cook until lightly browned.  Flip chicken and lightly brown the other side.  Lower heat and cover the chicken until cooked through and tender.

Remove chicken and keep warm.  Add chicken broth and white wine.  Deglaze bottom of the pan and reduce liquid to about half.  Add remaining butter and stir the chicken pieces in the sauce.

Test for seasoning and serve.  Make sure to spoon sauce over the chicken.

Pan Roasted Turkey Breast Meatballs
Influenced by Mom's technique for pan roasting chicken, rabbit or beef meatballs in spicy olive oil, this simple version makes incredibly delicious and moist turkey breast meatballs. 

Meatballs are made with ground turkey breast, saltine crackers, grated parmigiana cheese, sun dried tomato pesto, olive oil, red pepper flakes, Greek Yogurt and seasonings.  

Meatballs are pan roasted in olive oil in a covered pan over moderate heat.  The pan is shaken to help the meatballs cook on all sides while minimizing them sticking to the pan.  Covering also helps retain moisture and ready faster.              
  • 1 20 oz. package of ground turkey breast
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers without salted tops, ground.
  • 1 8 oz. jar of sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiana cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • About 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional olive oil for cooking
  • Red pepper flakes 
Place ground turkey breast in a large mixing bowl with saltines, sun-dried tomato pesto, parmigiana cheese, olive oil, Italian seasoning, cup of the Greek yogurt, and a few grinds of salt and pepper.      
Use surgical gloves to repetitively squeeze and mix all ingredients until uniform.  If needed to achieve perfect meatball consistency, mix in more ground saltines or additional Greek yogurt.

Add about 1/2 cup (or more) of olive oil to an electric skillet or sauté pan but don't turn heat on yet. 

Make smaller 1 1/2 diameter meatballs and place them in the cooking pan.  When all are made and and ready to cook, turn the heat on to moderate; add some red pepper flakes and cover.  As the meatballs cook, shake the pan continually the first minute or two, then often to help them cook evenly while minimizing them sticking.  Use a spatula to release any do.  When firm, cut into one to test for doneness.  Add additional pepper flakes to desired heat levels and coat the meatballs with the cooking oil.