Monday, January 26, 2009

I LOVE the 90's- Chicken Cacciatore edition

I realized today that I haven't really made a new recipe since my holiday party last month, so I figured I'd try a few new things this week. I've been hunkering for home a bit lately (yes I said hunkering) so I was very pleased when I saw Giada De Laurentiis' chicken cacciatore recipe while I was browsing the Food Network site. I haven't had chicken cacciatore in YEARS, but I think it was one of those dishes that was really popular in the midwest during my elementary and middle school years.... Chicken Cacciatore, Salisbury Steak.... that nasty cassarole made out of chicken and cream of mushroom soup... All staples of a good midwestern home cooking. My memory of the cacciatore my mom made was a thick tomato-y chicken stew that she served over rice. (As I'm writing this I realize that maybe what she called "chicken cacciatore" might have been just regular Ghanaian chicken stew with a little orgegano... but I digress....). Here is the basic recipe:


  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Basically all you need to do is season up the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge (dip :-p) the chicken pieces in flour and brown the chicken in medium-hot oil. You then remove the chicken and sautee the onion/garlic/red pepper mixture in the oil until the onions are soft and then add the rest of the ingredients and let the mixture simmer until the chicken cooks through.

Super easy. I think the hands on part of the meal took about 30 min, and then I went out and walked Leroy for about 25 minutes while the stew was simmering. I didn't really make many changes to the recipe except I didn't add the capers and I added some olives and red pepper flakes. I would give the recipe, with my very minor changes, a solid B. It was tasty... comfort-y, butt the flavors weren't really that complex or exciting. I think this would be a great dish to make for company, especially guy company, as it is good, simple, comfort food. the next time I make it for myself I will make the following changes.

1- Use less onion. I used 1 nice large onion, but I think the freshness and the size of the onion imparted WAY too much sweetness to the dish.
2- Add some tomato paste to the softened onion mixture. I really missed the tomato paste-y taste of the chicken cacciatore that I remember. As I stated early, I have a feeling that my mom probably Ghanafied her chicken cacciatore by adding a bunch of tomato paste (Ghanian chicken stews are often very thick with lots of tomato paste), but I'm going for less authenticity and more homey-ness, so I think I'll add tomato paste next time.
3- If I'm making this for company with more complex tastebuds I'll probably add the capers. I felt like the dish was just too sweet and it was mising an element of savory-ness. I tried to fix it by adding the tomato paste and even though about splashing a bit of lemon juice, but I didn't want to fluck it up and figured I'd just add the capers next time.

I didn't really want to eat Italian food on brown rice, and I couldn't really justify to myself eating white rice, so I decided to pan fry up a little bit of polenta from Whole Foods and call it a meal. Here's a pic

I really need to learn how to take better pictures of food. My photographer friend Curtis told me that food needs lots of light... but for some reason I always turn off my flash when photographing food... I don't like the way the artificial shine looks in my viewfinder.... but I guess it looks much better when you actually look at the pictures:

I honestly might try Salisbury Steak next month...


No comments: