Sunday, November 4, 2012

Craving Cacciatore

Can YOU remember the last time you had chicken cacciatore? I can't. I think I made it 100 years ago in my first apartment while I was making my way through my only cookbook, the Betty Crocker New Cookbook (of the checker cover and three-ring binder style). Ahh, I still remember the peanut butter noodle night that I insisted was delicious.

It was not.

Anyhow, the cacciatore I made back in the day was gross in multiple ways. Most importantly, leaving the skin on the chicken. During the slow braise it turns jello-like, never developing any sort of crust or crispiness necessary to making chicken skin palatable. The results were soggy pieces of chicken on noodles that were probably undercooked. Long story short, I haven't made the stuff in seven years.

But the thought of warm, lightly spicy chicken stew ladled over spaghetti has been tantalizing the back of my brain for a few weeks. Yesterday, with some terrible white wine in the fridge I've been wanting to use up, I decided to pull the trigger. I switched up this 1960's sort of recipe with the addition of sweet-heat Peppadew peppers, which livened up a sea of wilty bell peppers. Served with fresh baked bread, this warm and comforting dish was redemption from the awful sins of my cooking past.

Chicken Cacciatore
Olive oil
1 fryer chicken, cut into pieces and skinned
1 large onion, sliced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs rosemary
1 chiffonade of fresh basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dry red pepper flakes
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup white wine (plus additional for deglazing)
1/2 cup water
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 cup Peppadew peppers, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add salt and pepper seasoned chicken and cook until browned on the outside. Remove to a bowl to capture the juices.
3. Stir in onions and mushrooms and deglaze pan with a splash of white wine; cook for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, oregano, tomato sauce, wine and water.
4. Place chicken pieces and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl on top of the cooked vegetables. Add more salt and pepper. Place pepper slices on top of the chicken.
5. Cover and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

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