Monday, December 20, 2010
Happy Monday! And another December weekend is in the books... can you believe there is only one left? Thankfully, this one was full of holiday cheer -- a post-final exam celebration of the movie kind for Matt (and what kind of girlfriend would I be if I made him celebrate alone?), long overdue lunches with friends, a sweet Nativity play at church, and a Christmas party to make all the others jealous. A word about that movie -- The Fighter -- it's fantastic, passionate, and unintentionally funny at times. If Christian Bale doesn't score an Oscar for his performance in this, I'll be shocked. You must see it!
On the drive back to the city, me and my satisfied stomach got to thinking about the variety of appetizers we sampled. Most of what I had (save the strawberries and peanut butter fudge) was enveloped in a warm tasty sauce, an extension of the sweet and tangy meatballs or bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Even the baked brie with apples and honey had an ooey gooey flow to it.
There's something to be said for saucy dishes this time of year. It's like I take pity upon my food and want it to have a cozy blanket to stay warm, too. It's really a selfish wish, though. You see, a warm ladle of sauce keeps my dinner piping hot so each bite can warm me from the inside out. And I'm not just talking about some heavy cream-based sauce here (though, that has its place in my heart, too). I'm talking about a steaming brothy tomato-based sauce flavored with onions and peppers and mushrooms... oh my!
Chicken cacciatore is a traditional Italian meal, the word "cacciatore" meaning hunter. So, chicken cacciatore refers to a dish prepared hunter style by braising chicken in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, herbs, and white wine. It's a classic no fuss dish, so I can see where the hunter implication comes into play. No exotic ingredients or methods. Just a super hearty meal: tender and savory chicken with a vegetable-laden sauce perfect for crusty breads to keep you warm when the weather outside is frightful. I might have to add this to my short list of things to eat before braving the cold Pittsburgh temperature on January 1 at the Winter Classic :) That and a parka, hand warmers, long underwear...
One Year Ago: Cozy gear
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)
A few notes: I omitted the red pepper flakes because they aren't a pantry staple of mine (shocking, no?), but did add a heaping half teaspoon of ground black pepper to the final dish for some heat and flavor. If you like your food extra spicy, go crazy with the red pepper flakes and maybe even some hot sauce. After all, it's your stomach lining, not mine :)
2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and pepper, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add garlic and cook while stirring for 30 seconds. Add wine and cook until liquid has reduced by half.
Add tomatoes, juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Return chicken breasts to pan and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!