Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

It's good to be back in the kitchen.

The last month or so has been crazy. We've been out of town, at parties - eating everywhere but at home. But we're now back to our regular routine of cooking three to four times a week. Usually, that cooking includes two or three new recipes. When I put together the menu for the current week or so, I was obviously suffering from kitchen withdrawal, because every recipe on the list is new. That's ten new recipes in ten days. Today alone I did two of them.

This post is focusing on the entree: chicken cacciatore. I don't believe I'd ever eaten this before, but it looked like some great Italian comfort food. I've been yearning for something that I could leave simmering on the stove, filling the house with beautiful aromas. This was definitely it. First the house smelled browning chicken. Then like sauteed peppers and onions, then sweet roma tomatoes. And the flavors were as delicious as the aromas. The meat was fairly tender, although I think a longer simmer could make it fall-off-the-bone tender. The sauce was deliciously complex, with layers of flavor interacting: the garlic, the wine, the browned chicken skin, the delicious sweetness of the tomatoes, the fresh herbs.

What surprised me the most about this recipe was its lightness. When I put this on my menu, I expected a heavy Sunday dinner, but it was far from it. Now, part of that was due to our own reduction of the recipe. Jeff and I decided we had too many leftovers lying around and skipped the chicken breasts, which left out more than half the the meat. Also, I really should have put it over some sort of pasta (which is what I think I'm going to do with the leftovers tomorrow!). Still, a single chicken thigh with a thick, vegeabley sauce was exactly what I needed after weeks of sweet and heavy meals. And the buttermilk chive biscuit and roasted broccoli I served with it put it over the top. Don't worry - you'll get the biscuit recipe soon! 

Chicken Cacciatore
Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis.

4 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
2 chicken breast halves, skin-on and bone-in, halved crosswise
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 c flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped (the recipe wasn't specific about this - I did a rough dice)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 c dry white wine
28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
3/4 c low sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp capers, drained
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped

Sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Dredge in flour to coat lightly.

In large sautee pan, heat oil on medium-high. Add chicken to pan and saute until brown, about 5 minutes per side (do in multiple batches if necessary). Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add garlic, onion and bell pepper to the same pan and saute over medium heat until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add toamtoes and juice, broth, capers and oregano.

Return chicken to the pan and turn to coat with sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until chicken is cooked through (20-30 minutes).

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Bring the sauce to a boil until it thickens (3-5 minutes). Spoon off any excess fat. Spoon sauce over chicken, sprinkle with basil and serve.

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