In May, Dom and I were married 50 years. We decided to take a second honeymoon to celebrate. But, on this honeymoon, we would bring our oldest son, daughter in law, and grandchildren. We decided to go to Italy. Dom wanted to go to the Marche region, where his maternal grandparents lived before coming to America.
The city of Ascoli Picena was at the top of the list to visit. It is the largest city in Marche, where Dom’s grandparents were born. It is a very beautiful city, and it must have been very heartbreaking for those grandparents to leave. It makes my heart happy every time I look at these pictures of my son, grandson, husband, and granddaughter walking the same streets as their grandparents and great grandparents.
We tasted the famous stuffed and fried olives of Ascoli. These are the olives we prepare every Christmas. You can find the recipe here: https://newclassicrecipe.com/2021/12/15/olive-all-ascolana-fried-stuffed-olives/
On the way out of town, our guide pointed out that this area was famous for making a drink called Anisette. Dom recalled that his grandparents used to make Anisette at home in, of all places, the bathtub! This fact made me laugh and fueled my curiosity to learn more about Anisette.
Apparently the introduction of the anisette came from the Arabs who conquered this region. The Arabs used the anise herb for medicinal purposes. In the Marche region, in the Piceno area, anisette is liquor for lacing espresso. The anise is a traditional product used for its alcoholic distillation aromatic properties. The anise is found throughout the mountainous areas and in particular on Monti Sibillini – growing with wild fennel or with fruit (apples, oranges).
While looking for a recipe for homemade anisette, I stumbled upon a recipe for chicken made with anisette. ( Chicken Anisette by Gerry DiNardo). The recipe looked good but needed some updating. What follows is my updated version of Chicken Anisette.
- 3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 3 medium onions, sliced thin
- 1 lb of mushrooms, sliced thick
- flour, salt, and Aleppo pepper
- 2 teaspoons of Calabrian Chili Peppers
- 1 and 1/2 cup of Anisette liquor
- Marinate the chicken in a 1/2 cup of Anisette at least 2 hours before cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then coat with the flour.
- In a large pan, warm the olive oil and then brown the chicken. Do not cook through.
- Remove chicken from the pan and saute the onions and mushrooms with the chili peppers.
- Drain and excess oil from the pan.
- Return the onions, mushrooms, and chicken to the pan and cover with 1 cup of Anisette.
- Cook at a slow boil until the Anisette has become a syrup and the chicken is cooked through. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
SPECIAL NOTE: I prepared this dish for 8 people, but it can easily be cut in half.