Saturday, April 4, 2009
These days it take a bit more than cherry pie to heal what ails me (especially if you're referring to the nasty viral infection that hit me this past week). But, a good pot of cacciatore still goes a long way in turning around a bad day.
This cacciatore is a recipe we've made over and over, tweaking it to the extent that we can make it pretty much with our eyes closed. Since cacciatore recipes vary greatly, this one is probably just as authentic (or inauthentic) as any. The possible twist is that it contains artichoke hearts in addition to the (prerequisite) peppers.
Start off with a few staples from your spice cupboard -- a bay leaf, some basil, some oregano, red pepper flakes, and a bit of thyme. Take a photo, if you like... herbs tend to be serious attention hogs at our house, so we like to patronize them a bit.
For me, the mainstay of any cacciatore is sweet peppers. This is the perfect recipe to use up some of those beautiful peppers you've frozen from the previous summer's bounty. But, if you're out of those (as we are by now), you can feel free to substitute fresh peppers from the market.
You'll also want a few nice fresh chicken thighs -- which you'll coat with a bit of seasoned flour and brown up nicely in your Dutch oven.
Then, saute your peppers with some onions and garlic. Add a bit of tomato paste and those delectable seasonings...
And then throw in a bit of red wine. Once the wine reduces, you'll want to add more canned tomatoes to the mix.
And then nestle those chicken thighs back into the pot.
Put a cover on your pot and slip it into a moderate oven for about 40 minutes or so...
And wait patiently. When the pot comes out, and you remove the cover, it's going to smell positively divine. You'll want to remove the chicken thighs for a bit, stir in some artichoke hearts (yes, see, this is where things start getting really good), and allow them to heat through. Then, add the chicken back in and get ready to serve.
This cacciatore is nice on a bed of mashed potatoes... or rice. You also can't beat serving this with some nice crusty (garlic) bread to mop up all that delicious sauce.
I really like to pull the leftover chicken off the bone and serve it for dinner the next night with pasta. In fact, leftover chicken cacciatore makes some of the best baked ziti you've ever had in your life when tossed with pasta and a bit of mozzarella cheese and then baked for 30-40 minutes. Gosh, just the thought of it gets my saliva glands working over time.
Make it quick, before the spring breezes carry you away!
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