Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Giada's Chicken Cacciatore

Giada is one of those tv chefs you love in spite of yourself. Impossibly tiny and pretty, good natured and gifted. You know if you met her in person you would become immediately aware of your own two left feet, two giant left feet at that.
But there is something so inviting about Giada's recipes. They are uncomplicated and family friendly. I made this one for my family last night and they were thrilled with the results. Besides remembering to have fresh basil on hand, the only thing I would change would be to amp up the flavouring a bit. Some hot chili flakes, perhaps, and more garlic. That could be my personal mantra "More Garlic!".
I served it on a bed of pasta shells, because my second mantra would have to be "More Carbs!". Don't look at me like that, you love them too.
If you have a mixed crowd to feed, this is a safe bet. Good for kids and adults alike.

Chicken Cacciatore - Giada De Laurentiis
4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (I used a handful of quartered cremini mushrooms)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves (I added 1 tsp dried basil)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used parsley)(I threw on a little grated mozzarella too, for good luck)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.
In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.