Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Man Can Cook #13 - Simple Staples; Chicken Cacciatore

Ok fella’s (and ladies if you are reading this) here is a very simple and quick dish that you can keep in your pocket for one of those nights when you are fending for yourself and want to stay away from the take-out junk food. I’ll include a couple of ways to elevate it as well if you want to make it for guests. A lot of Cacciatore recipe's call for mushrooms and when I use them I prefer the Crimini variety. But to me, the mushrooms make it more of a "wintery" dish. This recipe is brighter, fresher, less earthy and I think more appropriate to the season.

  • 6qt Dutch Oven
  • Large pot (for cooking pasta)

  • 6 Chicken Thighs (skin on)
  • 1c All Purpose Flour
  • 3tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper (chopped, ½” chunks)
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion (chopped, ½” chunks)
  • 4 Garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3/4c White Wine
  • 1 28oz Can San Marzano Tomatoes (crushed)
  • ¾c  Chicken Stock
  • 3tbsp Capers
  • 1.5tsp Fresh Oregano leaves
  • 1/4c Fresh Basil (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2lb Pasta
  • Fresh Parmesean
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper

Begin by heating your Olive Oil over a medium flame. While that’s going on, season the chicken on both sides with Salt/Pepper then dredge in flour. Add the chicken to the pot and lightly brown them…about 5min on each side oughta do it then pull them out of the pan to a plate.

Toss your Bell Peppers, Onions, Garlic into the same pan with a bit more Salt/Pepper and sauté until the onions are translucent (not brown). Pour in the can of Tomatoes, Wine and Chicken Stock along with the Capers, Oregano and Basil and bring it to a medium boil until the liquid has reduced by 1/3 or so.

Then pop the chicken back into the pot and stir things around until the chicken is mostly submerged in the liquid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let it be for roughly 30min.

With 10min remaining on your clock, boil the pasta. Then drain, plate it with a piece of chicken along side with a ladle full of sauce over both and serve with a bit of fresh Parmesan as shown below. 

You can of course elevate this a bit as I did last night. Again touching on my recent theme of using that which I’ve grown in my garden I used 4c of fresh tomatoes that I peeled and crushed by hand and 3-4 of the Sweet Italian Peppers (seeded) in addition to the Red Bell Pepper. The process is the same, but as good as San Marzano Tomatoes are, nothing is better than fresh, ripe tomatoes from your own yard. 

In addition, I decided to make my own pasta last night rather than using store bought. I made the dough while the sauce was reducing and popped it in the freezer to chill, then rolled it out and cooked it (fresh pasta only takes about 3-5min to cook rather than 10 for dry) with about 10min remaining on the clock for the chicken.  Making fresh pasta is too simple to not do if you have a little extra time, the method is in the link below: 

It should take you about 45-50min to cook this with canned tomatoes and dry pasta. Even with using fresh ingredients rather than canned tomatoes and dry pasta it only took me about 1.25hrs to make dinner and it was a piece of cake while enjoying a couple of beers with Monday Night Football going on in the background.

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