Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quick Chicken Cacciatore

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These days I'm rarely in places where I'm the youngest in the room, but this morning an emergency caused a back up in the office of my eye surgeon. The reception area rapidly filled with impatient older-than-me folks who needed help sitting down and getting out of chairs, and as they waited, the decibel level in the room grew to a point that the Silver Fox, who wears a hearing aid, turned his off so he could "hear himself think." A heavy woman seated next to me, needed help getting out of her chair and as the nurse pushed and I pulled, I had to suppress a smile. Not an hour before I'd been complaining about stiff knees, and here in the land of the nearly blind, I could see I didn't have much to complain about. While I was chronologically no younger than most of the folks in the office, in terms of spirit and prowess I was still a pup and very grateful for all those years of healthy eating and exercise.

Years ago, not much thought was given to mindful or healthy eating and few recipes concerned themselves with calories or fat grams. Fortunately, the importance of diet and exercise worked its way into our consciousness and today we are far healthier than we were several decades ago. Getting there, however, caused some of what was good in our diets to be thrown away and I want to spend some time this Spring working on old recipes that deserve another chance. Tonight's feature is one of them.

Quick Chicken Cacciatore is a riff on a classic dish that was popular several decades ago. There are already hundreds of recipes for the dish, AKA Hunter's Chicken, and I'm about to throw another into the proverbial pot and stir it up a bit. This version is much lighter than the original and it is also easier to make. However, Hunter's Chicken is braised and that can present some problems. Braised chicken generally ends up with a flacid skin that is unpleasant, if not impossible to eat. It is easy enough to remove the skin before serving the chicken, but unless you have salted the chicken flesh as well as the skin prior to browning, your chicken will be lacking flavor. There are other ways around this problem but they are too involved for a quick meal that you want on the table in less than an hour. We'll talk about those techniques when we have more time. Olives give this dish its special flavor and I really think you'll be happily surprised at how effective they are in brightening the sauce in which the chicken braises. This is simple, fast and inexpensive to make and it is perfect for an occasional week night meal. Here is how the chicken is made. 

Quick Chicken Cacciatore...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Martha Stewart

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
8 skinless chicken thighs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in juice, broken up with a spoon
1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup pitted green olives, halved
Optional: 1 tube (16 ounces) plain prepared polenta, sliced into 12 rounds


1) In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, sear chicken, meaty side down, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a platter.
2) Add mushrooms to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with their juice), wine, onions, garlic, olives, and chicken (with any juices). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season stew with salt and pepper.
3) While stew is cooking, heat broiler. On a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides of polenta slices with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil, without turning, until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken cacciatore over polenta. Yield: 4 servings.

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Big Dude said...

This looks and sounds very good

From the Kitchen said...

This dish looks bright and delicious.


Life's a shoe said...

I've always wondered what's in a chicken cacciatore. Thanks for sharing, looks really good and pretty simple to make!


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