Saturday, December 8, 2012

Experiment #1: Chicken Cacciatore

Growing up my stepfather used to make Chicken Cacciatore, and I have fond memories of shaking the pieces of chicken in a paper bag with flour, salt and pepper.  The process that I remember took quite a while, but I never had attempted to make the dish myself.

A few months ago, I decided to try my hand at Chicken Cacciatore and I stumbled upon a recipe by Giada de Laurentis on the Food Network web-site.  It was a 5-star rated recipe according to many reviewers a must for all the effort required for this dish.

I followed the directions and per my usual habits, I added more garlic and onion and decided to add mushrooms since I had them in the fridge.  The first time I made the recipe I used the bone-in chicken thighs and chicken breasts and removed the skin of the chicken to eliminate some of the fat.  The recipe turned out to be tasty but the chicken breast was overcooked by the time the chicken thighs were just done.

For the second attempt, I decided to try to make the dish quicker and easier.  To make the dish in a shorter amount of time and make sure I didn't end up with another batch of overcooked chicken, I used only boneless skinless chicken thighs this time.

The ingredients:

  • Chicken Cacciatore (Modified from Giada De Laurentis)
  • 6 boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All purpose flour, for dredging
  • Olive Oil
  • 8 oz. white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped

  • 1/3 cup white wine (It's all I had in the house.  The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
  • 1 (28-oz.) can dice tomatoes with juice
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and left it at room temperature to marinate it.  Then I dredge the chicken pieces in the flour.

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

After browning in the pan, I set it aside on a plate.

I added the onion, garlic, and mushrooms with salt and pepper to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Liquid starts to exude from the mushrooms, onion and garlic because of the salt.

 I continued to cook the mixture until the pan was dry.
I decided to add the chopped bell pepper to the pan after cooking the mushrooms, onions and garlic so that they would be a bit firmer in the final dish.

I added the wine, tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers, oregano and basil and cooked for 3 minutes to reduce the liquid.  
Then I returned the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce and pressed the chicken to submerge into the sauce.  I brought the sauce to a simmer and continued simmering the chicken over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Using tongs, I transfered the chicken to a platter. 
I boiled the sauce until it thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.  I spooned the sauce over the chicken.
I served this recipe over egg pappardelle that was tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and a side of asparagus.

The finished dish! Delicioso!

Notes on second attempt:  
The meal was delicious, but I would reduce the sauce even more so that it would be a bit thicker as the sauce was a bit thin for my taste.  Minor adjustments aside, the meal was delicious!

A definite make again recipe.

Appropriate for an elegant meal.  It takes time to make, but the results are delicious. 

Link to Original Chicken Cacciatore Recipe from Food Network:

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