Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms & Bell Pepper

Here's another winner from Kate at Our Best Bites!  I don't think I've ever had a dud recipe from there, and this Chicken Cacciatore was extremely good.  Like, serve it to company good.  I can definitely see why this recipe is a lifelong favorite of Kate's.  It's just perfect- the chicken, bell pepper, and mushrooms are right at home in the robust, rather spicy, wine tinged, velvety tomato sauce.  A keeper for sure!

My version of this is a tiny bit different from the original.  Used more chicken (actually 1 3/4 lb, but I'm freakishly picky about fat and stuff on meat and lost about 1/4 lb when I was cutting it off), divied up the pepper a little bit differently, and the recipe suggested using more mushrooms if you love them, which we do.  The big change, though, is that I did not cook this in the slow cooker.  I was afraid the chicken would get dried out since the pieces are so small and you brown it on the stove first.  The internet told me that chicken cacciatore is often just simmered over low heat for an hour, so that's the route I decided to take and it worked out smashingly.

We had this over spaghetti, but right as the spaghetti was finishing cooking, my husband came home with a spaghetti squash and I think the leftovers will be wonderful with it.

Chicken Cacciatore

6 T olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 C white wine (not cooking wine, it's very salty and just gross)
1 1/2 C chicken broth
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 t dried marjoram
1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 C flour
1 t salt
3/4 t pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces (I actually used 1 3/4 lbs)
1 bay leaf
2 C sliced mushrooms (about 5 ounces by weight)
1 green bell pepper, sliced

Brown onion in 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  When onion is almost done, add garlic and cook until golden.  Remove skillet from burner and spoon the onion and garlic into a blender.  Add tomato paste, wine, chicken broth, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, marjoram, and thyme to blender and blend until completely smooth.

Place flour, 1 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp pepper in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and shake to mix.  Add the chicken and shake until it's evenly coated. Place the remaining 4 Tbsp oil in the skillet and heat over medium-high.  Add chicken and any excess flour and cook, stirring frequently, until browned (does not need to be cooked through).

Add blended sauce to the chicken in the skillet along with the bayleaf, mushrooms, and bell pepper.  Cover skillet and cook at a low simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.  The chicken, mushrooms, and bell pepper should be cooked through and tender.

Serve cacciatore over pasta, spaghetti squash, or steamed broccoli with a bit of parmesan on top.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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