This is a simple dish with flavours from north eastern Italy, in an area between Slovenia and the Adriatic, south of Monfalcone and close to Trieste called the Carso (Karst in German, Kras in Slovenian).
The ingredients in the recipe are simple and reflect the flavours of Hungary and Germany, Russia and countries in Eastern Europe but also Trieste – chicken, sauerkraut, onion, lardo and white wine.This is not surprising as Trieste used to be part of the Austro- Hungarian Empire
I first came across a version of this recipe in Fred Plotkin’s book, La Terra Fortunata, (published in 2001). I have made versions of this dish before but have used chicken with bones as the recipe suggests, but this time I used boneless chicken and some fatty bacon that needed using. Having lived in Trieste I am very familiar with sauerkraut and cooking with smoked pork and pork fat (on the odd occasion) and I invariably have jars of sauerkraut at home, especially in winter for making dishes like iota.
Lardo is an Italian salume that is eaten and widely used in Italian cuisine especially in northern Italy; it is made from the thick layer of fat from the back of a pig and cured with a mixture of salt, herbs, and spices; the most esteemed Italian lardo is aged in the warm, fresh caves in the area of Carrara (famous for its marble) and no additives or preservatives are used.
Lardo Affumicato is Speck. This also is used widely in cooking of Trieste and Italian regions that used to be part of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire.
The rendered fat from the lardo or bacon is the fat used in this recipe. (Pork fat, or rendered pork fat is also called lardo in Italian and is lard in English).
It is not necessary to specify amounts as this recipe and like most Italian recipes it relies on estimations and what you like, but I used roughly 1k of chicken, 5 rashes of fatty bacon and about 500g of sauerkraut (drained and squeezed in a colander). If you want more bacon use it, more sauerkraut…by all means.
Gently fry the bacon or lardo in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and when there is sufficient melted fat in the pan sear the chicken pieces till golden.
Fry the chicken in batches so as not to crowd the chicken pieces in the pan while searing.
Once you have seared the meat, add a sliced small onion and cook it gently till softened and golden.
Add some peppercorns , bay leaves and the sauerkraut and cook it gently for about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken, some white wine (about 1/2 cup) and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and cook gently for about 20 minutes. If necessary add more wine or water to keep it moist while it is cooking,
If you are using chicken with bones cook it for longer (30-40 mins depending on the size of the chicken).