Thinking ahead into the new year, I had two wishes for my cooking adventures and this blog:
1) Working on my own photography so I can take action shots while I’m working/cooking and them not look like a 7 year old took them
2) Spending more money on cookbooks rather than magazines and actually using them.
As you read this post, you’ll see that it’s painfully obvious that I was successful at one resolution but not the other.
The week between Crimmus and New Year, I was seeking out comfort food. I turned to Fresh Every Day from Sara Foster. Its one of my "go-to" cookbooks, which means I go to it, flip through the pages, ooh and aaah, and set it back down. Truth be told, I get most of my recipes and ideas from cooking shows or browsing the Internet.
I followed through with using a recipe from this cookbook. When browsing through it, I had already begun to appreciate the simplicity and the emphasis on fresh produce and ingredients. Chicken Cacciatore seemed like easy comfort food. Plus, I rarely cook with chicken thighs – why I have no idea – so I just felt like I was being a trailblazer all the way around.
(above: the way their version looked)
This recipe really couldn’t be simpler. Bake the mushrooms – definitely add the sherry vinegar for some extra oomph on the mushrooms. While that’s going on, brown the chicken thighs. Set them aside and start working on the tomato sauce. I substituted fresh oregano for the marjoram and did not skimp on the fresh Italian parsley. Tons of garlic in there, too. Mix it all back together and heat through.
I had my serving over a bed of sauteed spinach. I’m sure the classic "serving it on pasta or noodles" version is quite yummy, too. I will say that using the chicken thighs *is* the way to go. They add richness that you would never get using plain chicken parts or boneless chicken breasts.
(above: the way *my* version looked)
Chicken Cacciatore (serves 4 to 6)
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms wiped clean, stems trimmed and halved
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
8 chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
1 small diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley – plus more for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the mushrooms, caps down, in a single layer in a small baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO and the vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast the mushrooms for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring several times to evenly cook and coat.
2. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with S&P and 1 tablespoon of the marjoram.
3. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium high heat. Lay the chicken thighs in the skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to a platter to keep warm.
4. Add the onion to the skillet you cooked the chicken in and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for another minute. Add the wine and deglaze the pan while bringing to a boil. Continue to boil for 2 to 3 minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the chicken broth, bring to a low boil, and simmer 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens. Season to taste at this point.
5. Return the chicken to the pan with the sauce and simmer another 12 to 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the mushrooms, parsley, and remaining marjoram and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Plate while spooning extra sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley and cheese.