Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

I love one pot meals. It is so easy, everything cooks together and develops a fantastic flavor. I am particularly partial to making meals like this because of this enormous dutch oven. 
Isn't she a beauty? I think so. 

Anyways, onto chicken. How many different ways are there to make chicken? Ten thousand? Ten million? Whatever the number the possibilities are endless for what you can do with it. You can make soups, stews, stir fries, casseroles; its incredible how versatile it is. 

I had been wanting to make chicken cacciatore for a while now, mostly because of the flavor profile. I love the anise flavor of fennel and the complexity it adds to the dish. Combined with the sweetness of the tomatoes, this dish is definitely a winner. My family gobbled it up so fast I didn't even get to take a finished product picture! 

Traditionally, this dish is supposed to be served over pasta, but I decided to pass on this just because I am not that big a fan of pasta. However, I'm sure it would be delicious. 

Chicken Cacciatore 
Serves 4-6
1 Whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 bulb fennel
3 garlic cloves 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Zucchini
1 Yellow squash
6 oz. cremini mushrooms
1/2 lb. Asparagus
1/2 yellow onion
1/4 C. Flour
1/2 C. Dry red wine*
2 tbs. tomato paste
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, low sodium
1 tbs. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 C. fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a large dutch oven to medium heat. Add in some olive oil and allow to get hot. Dredge the chicken in flour and begin browning the chicken in the dutch oven. You do not want to cook the chicken yet, just get a nice, brown crust on both sides. The chicken finishes cooking later. This process should take about two batches with the chicken cooking about 2-3 minutes on each side. 

When you have finished browning the chicken, remove and set aside. In the same dutch oven, begin by sautéing your onion on medium low heat. Take care not to burn the onion. After about five minutes add in the fennel and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes. Once the fennel and onion have sufficiently softened, add the rest of the vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and asparagus. Cook for about 10-15 minutes to soften up the vegetables. 

Once the vegetables have softened up nicely, you are ready to deglaze the pan with the wine. (Traditionally, cacciatore is deglazed with white wine, I personally like the robust flavor that red wine gives to this dish but you can use whatever) Cook for about 3 minutes before adding the tomatoes, chicken, and herbs into the mix. 

 Put the lid on and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, remove the chicken and cover. 

Simmer the sauce for an additional five minutes to allow it to thicken.

Serve the sauce over the chicken with a nice piece of crusty bread or on a bed of pasta. Enjoy! I wish I had a finished product picture but it was so good It was gobbled up so fast. 

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