Monday, July 30, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore...hmm...sounds pretty fancy.  I don't know about this.  All cacciatore means is hunter or huntsman in Italian.  When I found this out, I knew I wanted to try and make it for my little hunter.  I am really not sure where I got this recipe, but I have been tweaking it over the years and somewhat made it my own.  It was one of the first things that I made for Matt, and he raved over it!  Every time I make it, he tells me how much he loves it.

I am also using this recipe to showcase one of my favorite herbs, Thyme.  It is so earthy and pairs perfectly with any type of chicken whether it be roasted, breaded, or grilled.  It is the type of plant that grows better when practically forgotten about.  It loves full sun, high heat, and little watering.  Basically, it is the perfect herb for our Mississippi summers.

Cut off a few sprigs of thyme

Season your chicken legs with salt and pepper.  Let me just say that you can use any kind of chicken you like!  I have also used the thighs and it has turned out just as delicious.  I have not tried this recipe with the breasts, but you will need to decrease the cooking time.  Come to think of it, you could definitely do this in a crockpot.  Just throw some frozen chicken breasts into the crockpot with the other ingredients on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.  

Here are the players: 2 small onions or 1 medium onion, one clove of garlic, and a few sprigs of thyme.  Also, not pictured are two cans of crushed tomatoes and 1/4 cup of white wine.

Take out your heavy duty cast iron.  I believe this cast iron has been passed down in my husband's family for who knows how long.  We inherited it, and the thing about cast iron is you never, ever, ever wash it with soap.  Nope... I know you are tempted to, but don't!  Just rinse and scrub with water and you are done.  I used 1 TBSP of butter and a circle around the pan of olive oil.  The butter has a lower heat tolerance than the olive oil, so I learned that you can combine the two and get the good qualities from both.  This also adds a depth of flavor which is always welcome!

Start out by searing the chicken  

Look at that fantastic color that is developing!

After the chicken has been seared on both sides, remove it from the pan and begin cooking your onions that have been roughly diced.

The onions really perfume your kitchen.  For some reason, the smell of onions cooking is one of the most comforting smells to me.  I love it!

When the onions begin turning translucent and have a slight brown crust to them, add 1/4 of a cup of white wine.

Chop up your thyme and save a little bit of it to garnish your finished product

Add your thyme and two cans of crushed tomatoes

Place your chicken back into the cast iron

Turn the heat down to medium low and let your chicken braise for about 45 minutes.  It is important to cover  the cast iron so you do not loose too much liquid.

Umm... how delicious does this look???  It is easy to see why it is my sweetie's favorite.  I usually make this recipe and pair it with some sort of grain.  I have used everything from white rice to brown rice to barley.  Believe it or not the barley is my all time favorite.  It has this chewy consistency that I think goes well with the non-texture of the tomatoes.  Grab you a hunk of crusty bread and you have a beautifully healthy, hearty, and rustic dinner that anyone would be proud of.

Chicken Cacciatore

2 small or 1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 TBSP of butter
1 TBSP of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
3-4 sprigs of Thyme, minced
2 cans of crushed tomatoes
3-4 chicken legs

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet.  Sear your chicken legs on each side for about 4 minutes until they turn brown.  Remove the chicken legs and put on a plate.  

Add the onions to the pan and cook until they become translucent.  Add the white wine and reduce by half.  Pour in the crushed tomato and sprinkle in 3/4 of the thyme.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Arrange the chicken in the pan and cover the cast iron.  Lower the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is braising, make your rice, barley, or couscous.  Spoon the grain onto a plate to make a bed for the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the pan and place it over the rice.  Cover the chicken and rice with the tomato mixture and garnish with the remaining thyme.

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