Saturday, July 02, 2011
It was the supermarket pack of on-the-bone free range chicken pieces, drumsticks, thighs and wings, that got me thinking about a long slow braise, something with a tomato's cheery red to colour a dim winter's day.
Cacciatora means hunter style, which in turn means this dish is extremely adaptable, just like all good hunters. Not being in the mood for mushrooms meant that they were dispensed with, but I did like Jamie Oliver's suggestion of green olives, sadly which, weren't to hand. Being no frills though, meant it was very child friendly.
Your choice of red or white wine shows favour to either the south or north of Italy. No oregano? How about some marjoram instead. Some capsicum or other vegetable won't upset things, just pop them in.
Perhaps the one thing that does offer an advantage is to use the best quality chicken you can afford. Not only is the texture and flavour notably superior, they tend to be less fatty, meaning a less oily result.
Rice is an easy side, but served on wet polenta, it would positively make a cold winter's night shine.
1.5kg chicken pieces, thighs, drumsticks and wings
salt & fresh ground pepper
2 onions, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, finely diced
250ml white wine
2 400g tins plum tomatoes, pulped
1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
1 sprig rosemary
8 dried bay leaves
If using chicken wings, trim off the wing tip, season each chicken piece with salt and fresh ground pepper, then dredge in the plain flour.
In a large casserole dish, big enough to hold all the chicken, heat some olive oil and brown all the chicken pieces a few at a time and remove to a plate. In the same oil, gently sweat the onion and garlic until just turning brown, stirring often.
Turn up the heat, add the wine and boil until reduced by half, then add the plum tomatoes, dried oregano or marjoram, the sprig of rosemary and the bay leaves. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil, then slide in all the chicken pieces and any juices that have collected.
Pop into an oven set to 160c for 1.5 hours. When cooked, take out of the oven and skim off as much oil as possible. If the sauce is too thin, remove the chicken and boil until reduced to your liking. Serve with rice or wet polenta, sprinkled with some chopped parsley