Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pollo alla Cacciatora

My cousin gave me this great Italian cookbook (Italian Cooking by Linda Doeser) for christmas and I couldn't wait to make something from it; after all he and his wife do have the best restaurant in West Virginia (ok so I may be a little biased, he was always my cool older cousin and the only white guy that I have met who can pull off dreads while still looking like someone you would want handling your food, which says a lot, but still....). Like pretty much everything else I make this chicken is easy, the worst part was taking the skin off, but that just may be me and the fact that I tried to take the skin off the wings with a pair of dull kitchen scissors and didn't have a fortifying glass of wine beforehand like my dad suggested. Other than that, there is something comforting about this dish, the dutch oven full of chicken and sauce happily bubbling away in the oven for an hour.

Start with butter and oil, always a good beginning if you ask me.

Brown your (mostly) skinless chicken (I gave up on the wings after 15 minutes, which i think shows a surprising amount of perseverance/stupidity).

In the same pot, full of all those good brown bits, cook the red onions for about 10 minutes.

Toss in everything else, except the mushrooms, although I have decided that it would probably be perfectly fine to add the mushrooms at this stage. Bring the sauce to a boil and then toss the chicken back in, cover it and pop the whole thing in the oven.

After it has been cooking for about 45 minutes, it's time to add the mushrooms.

MMMMMmmm mushrooms. Not. I am not fond of mushrooms but my parents are, the things I do for them...

Slide all those mushrooms down in there, and push them down into the sauce so that they soak it up and taste more like oniony, chickeny, tomatoey goodness and less like mushrooms. Cook for a bit longer, until the chicken is done.

Serve it up with some pasta or bread to soak up the juices. It may not look super pretty, but don't hold that against it, it makes up for it by being delicious.

Pollo alla Cacciatora (from Italian Cooking)
Serves 4
1/2 oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 lb skinned chicken portions, bone in
2 red onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
14 oz canned tomatoes, chopped
6 fresh basil leaves, torn (I accidentally killed my basil plant so I just used a sprinkle of the dried stuff)
1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste (they didn't have this at our grocery store so I used regular tomato paste)
2/3 cup red wine
salt and pepper
8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a flameproof casserole. Add the chicken, and cook until browned all over, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic to the casserole and cook over low heat, stirring every once in awhile, until golden. Add everything but the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot and push down into the sauce.

Cover and cook in a preheated oven, 325 degrees, for about 50 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 10 more minutes or until the chicken is done. Serve immediately.

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