Friday, July 29, 2011

A winter dish in the middle of summer? Why not.

Sometimes in the summer I find I miss eating a great big dish of something hearty. That was the case last week, so I made something I've loved since I was little -- chicken cacciatore.
In Italian, "cacciatore" means hunter. There are a few theories about the origin of the name of this dish, one of which is that when the men came back from the hunt they'd be greeted with a dish like this one, which is hearty and warm. Whatever the origin, it's incredibly easy to make, and you can use any part of the chicken you like.

You'll need the following:
1 package of chicken breast (about 3-4 pieces) or a package of thighs and legs
1 large onion, minced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic
8-10 white mushrooms, sliced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
fresh basil

~Start with your favorite part of the chicken: a combination of legs, thighs and breasts is a nice.
~If you're using the breast only, cut into chunks and dredge in flour (add salt and pepper to the flour for extra flavor). If you're using thighs and legs, simply salt and pepper on both sides.
~Brown chicken in olive oil until golden; brown the other side and when golden set aside
~Wipe out the pan, add fresh oil and saute the onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms, about 8-10 minutes.
~Add the chicken to the vegetables and add the crushed tomatoes and wine to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and add some fresh basil. Stir, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
When you open the lid, you'll have something like this. For this batch I used breast only. What part of the chicken you use is entirely up to you; it's delicious either way.

In southern Italy, chefs generally use red wine for this dish, while further north chefs tend to use white wine.

Serve over linguini, spaghetti or fettucini and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and you'll have a bit of winter in the middle of summer. Buon appetito!

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