Spicy Chicken Cacciatore
February 19, 2008
After a lovely, cozy dinner with some friends last night, one of our guests asked me when, exactly, my life was ending. I missed only about a half a beat before responding, “Oh, you mean when do I start working this fall?” I gave the answer (late September) and realized that I had apparently been talking about my transition from studenthood to lawyerdom in fairly bleak (okay, perhaps apocalyptic) terms.
And surely it will not be quite so bad. But it will probably mean an end to weeknight dinner parties (sniff) and my weeknight menu aspirations will likely need to downsize. Before I get too woe-is me, though, there are also a million things I am excited about, in terms of working, and plenty of things I will not miss about student life. I am just saying that Monday night dinner parties are decidedly not one of the student-lifestyle features I won’t miss.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
But maybe we do not have to let weeknight dinner parties go all together. Maybe we can just forgo the appetizers and dessert (more on those later this week; stay tuned). And, while we are at it, we can even make some things ahead of time. Like this spicy chicken cacciatore, which I made on Sunday afternoon, refrigerated overnight and slowly reheated last night before dinner. I tasted it on Sunday and it was comforting and succulent and it radiated a mild heat, while retaining the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers. My second taste, last night, revealed that the flavors of the dish had deepened and the texture of the sauce had strengthened after its sleepover in the fridge. As such, I will be adding this recipe to my “What to Cook When My Life (as I Know It) Ends” file, one I hope to build over the next six months. Oh, and I should probably find a better name for it too.
Spicy Chicken Cacciatore
Food & Wine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 boneless chicken thighs (3 pounds)*
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 pickled hot peppers, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped**
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion, bell pepper, pickled peppers and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and tomatoes to the skillet and season lightly with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it in the vegetables skin side up, and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat for 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is reduced by half. Sprinkle with the parsley.
* I used a combination of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into large chunks.
** I used canned tomatoes (one 28-ounce can) in place of the paltry fresh tomatoes in the markets right now.
*** Final Note: This is a great make-ahead dish. Just allow to cool slightly, cover the pot and put the whole thing in the fridge. Before serving, gently bring it back up to a bubble over moderate heat.