Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore

Today, I’m sharing a recipe with you of a dish I made when I participated in a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.  The class was called An Italian-American Feast: Sunday in Brooklyn.  This class was EXCELLENT!!!  I love Italian food.  It’s my favorite cuisine.  This cooking class was right up my alley.  We made a ragu, braciole, meatballs, cannelloni, veal parmigiana, potato croquettes, broccoli salad, and an espresso biscuit tortoni…in addition to the chicken cacciatore featured here.  Whew!!!  It truly was a feast!

Chicken cacciatore is a braised chicken dish.  It is also known as “hunter’s stew”.  Variations of this dish usually include tomatoes and onions, may include other veggies, and also some wine.  The Duncan household had our own version of a Sunday feast where I served this along with a side of capellini pasta with marinara, broccolini, and garlic bread.  I was so thrilled to re-create my Italian-American experience right in my own kitchen!

Chicken Cacciatore

1 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1.5 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 whole chicken, cut up into 6 pieces
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ c Marsala
1c Italian canned tomatoes without their juice, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1c chicken stock
5 or 6 basil leaves
1 or 2 bay leaves
½ c frozen peas
¼ c finely chopped parsley

Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and onion powder.  In a wide heavy pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and brown on all sides.  You may have to brown chicken in batches.  Transfer semi-cooked chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Tip: Butter browns easily so you will need to cook at a lower heat setting than you may normally cook chicken.  I had my heat a little high so the chicken browned a little too quickly.  Monitor your heat to make sure it’s browning slowly and steadily.

Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook slowly until they become translucent and take on some color.  Add the Marsala, and simmer until it is almost evaporated.  Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper.  Simmer gently for 10 mins.

Add stock, basil, and bay leaves and simmer for another 10 mins.

Add the chicken back into the pan, cover, and gently simmer for a half hour or until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast reads 165F.

Tool highlight:  My meat thermometer is my best friend!  I NEVER overcook chicken and it’s always moist and delicious!

Add the cooked peas, and simmer for 10 mins more.  Check for salt and pepper.  Serve on a flat serving platter and garnish with chopped parsley.

You can typically go to your local grocer, purchase a whole chicken, and have the butcher cut it up into pieces for you.  I went to Whole Foods because they always offer to do that sort of stuff for you.  I love how accommodating they are.  I highly recommend this rather than buying individual pieces because it’s much cheaper.  However, if you prefer a certain cut of meat, you could always choose to make this with all breasts, all thighs, etc.

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