Just a fair bit of warning. Despite my best tries, I simply could not take a decent photograph tonight. Now whether that was due to the nature of the dish or the rumblings of my stomach sending up protests at my delay I don't know.
Italian Bread and Parmesan Frico
When I was a child, I hated when this dish was served at dinner time. I didn't like anything about it at all. Not the way it looked. Not the way it tasted. And not how it was served. Needless to say--I was a very picky eater!
Not anymore. Now I am willing to try almost anything and it has been to my great benefit. It's also made me rethink some of the things I was served in my childhood and give them a try again now and then.
This past Sunday I made a roast chicken for dinner and had a good quantity of chicken left over. It made me start to think about ways to use up leftover chicken: chicken pot pie, chicken salad, chicken and dumplings. Nothing was appealing to me until I thought about Chicken Cacciatore. I could make that, I thought. But then I remembered how it was always made with whole bone-in pieces of chicken--legs, thighs, breasts--and I only had chunks of dark and light meat that I had pulled off the chicken. It annoyed me to have to discard that idea too but then I thought--Wait a minute, why does the chicken have to be on the bone? I never liked that about Cacciatore. I can do it however I want. And who says I HAVE to serve it on rice?
I got to thinking and then today I got to cooking. Here's what I came up with that suits me perfectly:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, cut in thin strips and then cut in half
3-4 medium large crimini mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3/4 cup of white wine, (approximately)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 14.55 oz can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
3 cups cut up cooked chicken--dark and light pieces
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. In a saucepot, pour in enough EVOO to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and heat it until it's hot. Saute the onions and peppers for a few minutes until they begin to soften and turn fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to deepen in color. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes being careful not to burn.
2. Add the white wine and stir. Allow the mixture to cook for a few minutes and reduce a little. Add the oregano, rosemary, thyme and sugar and stir. Salt and pepper. I use grinders for both of these and use several generous twists.
3. Carefuly pour in the tomatoes and paste and stir. Add the chicken and stir. Turn down heat, cover and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes. Occasionally stir. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture seems too thick but be careful. You want the Chicken Cacciatore to be thick and hearty--more like a thick chunky stew rather than a soup or a sauce.
4. Serve over hot fresh pasta for maximum taste. If you haven't access to fresh pasta, the regular kind will do just fine.
Parmesan Frico (Parmesan Cheese Crisps)
Finely grate about 1 cup of Parmesan Cheese. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place heaping teaspoons of the cheese. Flatten with the heel of your hand or the bottom of a glass. You can sprinkle with fresh ground pepper or a little of your favorite dried herb. Bake in a 375 oven for about 10-12 minutes or until thin and golden brown. Cool completely before serving.