Friday, 6 January 2012

Chicken Cacciatore (MY Way!)

Back when I was single, I used to live in a cute little bachelorette pad that was right above the greatest Italian shop ever! They were a grocery store and deli, but also made the best food! Sandwiches, Cannolis, gnocchi’s, sauce and pasta dishes. Once in a while, they would make this Chicken Cacciatore that was so amazing! But they made it so seldom and sometimes when they did make it, my poor college kid self couldn't even afford it! (8 bucks was a lot of money back then!)

Fast forward 9 years and I'm still dreaming about it. I never made it myself as I was too scared to try and fail and the original owners of the place sold it to another wonderful Italian family who never made it again, so I couldn't go back now that I had a steady income.

I decided to put my foot down and finally make it myself. Or at the very least, try to make it myself. I used organic ingredients, free range unmedicated chicken, gluten free flour and served it atop of a mound of gluten free, brown rice pasta. I didn't have any wine but you could certainly add wine to the sauce if you'd like. Serve it with a glass of red, a nice salad and crusty bread and you have a delicious meal!

1 Onion, chopped not too small
2 Tablespoons Garlic chopped
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Sautee until onions are softened and maybe a little colored

Add 12 Organic tomatoes diced
Salt & Pepper
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar (I used dermara sugar cus that’s all we use at home and it’s got a richer molassesy taste
Mix up and cook on high heat until it liquefies and starts reducing liquid

Add ½ cup of Balsamic Vinegar
Using your immersion blender, blend it into a sauce

Add 1/3 cup tomato paste
Mix it up and let simmer and reduce.. you want it thicker
(If you don't have enough sauce to suit your needs, you can always add some passata (strained tomatoes) to the pot and simmer it together. I ended up doing that as I was aiming for three casserole dishes of food.)

Wash and pat dry chicken thighs and legs and set aside
In a shallow dish, add flour (I used Gluten Free All Purpose Flower)
Add Salt, Pepper and Paprika to  the flour and mix with a fork

Using tongs, dredge your chicken pieces one at a time and shake off excess flour, set aside in a plate

In a Big High-Sided Frying Pan
Cut up 1 cup of Pancetta into cubes and put in the bottom of the pan at low to medium heat with the lid on and slowly render out the fat
(this takes a longer time, I did this first and then prepped all my veg)
With a spoon, carefully pick out all the crispy pancetta bits and set aside in a bowl for later. Keep the oil in the pan

Add a couple glugs of Olive Oil to the pancetta fat and turn up the heat to medium high

Using tongs, gently place the floured chicken into the oil to lightly fry the outside. Do not over crowd the pan and do it in batches if you need to.
Turn over each piece so it’s golden all over (doesn’t have to be cooked). Set aside on a clean plate. Repeat until all chicken is done

After you’re done with frying the chicken, keep the pan with oil in it over the heat and add the following
One onion (cut in quarters and then cut into thin strips like an inch long)
1 Red and ½ Green pepper (cut into quarters or sixths and then cut into thin strips like an inch long)
1 small tin of Anchovies, melt it into the pan, mashing it down with your spoon and combining it well)
Scoop of chopped garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste
Sautee until slightly softened

Add like a tablespoon of UMAMI Taste #5 (optional, but so good!)

Add in the crispy pancetta bits from before, a handful of chopped black calamata olives and a handful of chopped capers
Sautee further

Add sauce from above
Simmer slightly. Turn off heat

In your casserole dishes, spoon the sauce into the bottom, good and thick layer
Place your chicken on top of the sauce and nestle it in
Put your lid on your dish and throw it into the over at 375F for 40 minutes
Take off the lid, spoon a bit of the sauce over the chicken now
Place it back in the over for another 20-30 minutes.

Serve with shorter pasta, like penne, rotini, rigatoni etc. I used gluten free rotini   
You can also serve it with bread, rice, polenta,  potatoes etc

Top with torn basil and fresh parm

This made three casserole dishes for me (I froze the other two for lazy or busy days) It yielded six thighs and 8 legs. You could use your own jarred sauce, but add balsamic to the mix at some point cus you need the flavor and it adds another layer of complexity