Weekday Night Dinners: Chicken Cacciatore

I think I'm getting lazy with weeknight dinners this past week.  They've all been so low-maintenance, it's killing me a tiny, tiny bit.

Alternate explanation is that I've been incredibly tired and work has been a raging pile of grr, but that would be rational.  We don't do that here.

I got home super late yesterday (between sweating all of my stress out at the gym, not being able to buy stamps again because my boss is the male equivalent of a bimbo, and talking to my old coworkers at the library (and maybe getting my old job back part time!)) it was like quarter to 4 by the time I got home.  Which obviously meant my mom was freaking out about how long dinner would take.

(By freaking, I really mean 'inquiring insistently'.   Pardon my hyperbole, mama.)

The greens just want to assert their awesome presence, don't mind them.
The greens just want to assert their awesome presence, don't mind them.

Dinner was really, really cooperative in that, at least: chicken cacciatore, with last week's leftover polenta and pan-roasted broccoli rabe.  Yum.

Notice a trend with the meals-that-stick-to-your-ribs thing?  It's something I do until I can walk comfortably outside without a coat.  Every day of winter before that is fair game for hot, hearty dinners that could feed starving families, as far as I'm concerned.

First order of business was to get my shit together.  Yeah, this stuff cooks for an hour and it's fine, but the original recipe says 'cook for an hour preferrably more'.  That's a real deadline, right there.  I only had barely over an hour.

Preparation is the key to success, or something.
Preparation is the key to success, or something.

Which included minor butchering.

Using the big girl knives!
Using the big girl knives!

The rest of it fell together pretty easy, and smelled deeeelicious.

Crispy skin, all day.
Crispy skin, all day.
Best tasting mushrooms, ever.  Arguably also the best looking, but I won't fight you as hard on that one.
Best tasting mushrooms, ever. Arguably also the best looking, but I won't fight you as hard on that one.

And I swear to you, this sauce was the single easiest thing to assemble.  Ever.

Tomato paste in a tube is your absolute best friend.  Forever.  Forget your real friends and just get this.
Tomato paste in a tube is your absolute best friend. Forever. Forget your real friends and just get this.

..and into the oven it went.  Which gave me time to work on my sides: that nice rabe (with a little bit of leftover spinach) and crispy fried polenta.

Pre-fried.  Really weirdly Jell-o like on the bottom, too.
Pre-fried. Really weirdly Jell-o like on the bottom, too.

Once the chicken was out of the oven (an hour and fifteen, take THAT, recipe!) it was time to nom.  About damn time.

Be still, my watering taste buds..
Be still, my watering taste buds..
Mine!  Mine mine mine!
Mine! Mine mine mine!  This plate is actually mine, and I'm so proud.

My only regret: I didn't thicken the tomato sauce after it had a chance to bake with the chicken, so it wound up a lot more brothy than I might have liked.  A quick slurry would have fixed it, but it was one of those "I am getting hangry I do not care at this point" kind of deals, since daddy and sister were punching holes in my neatly constructed dinner schedule.

As they do.

Chicken Cacciatore
adapted from Food 52

Ingredients

  • chicken breasts, skin on and halved widthwise
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped fresh or canned
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon each thmye and sage

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add enough oil to sear the chicken and brown in batches, skin-side down, until all sides have been crisped. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until all sides have browned. Add the 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and cook until all liquid has evaporated. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the chopped onions, a pinch of salt, and about another half-teaspoon of oil. Cook until soft, then add the carrots and cook briefly. Add the tomato paste, black pepper, and red pepper and saute briefly, then add the tomatoes and remaining 1 cup red wine vinegar. Mix and bring to a simmer.
  5. Toss the spices with the mushrooms and return them to the pan, then add the chicken-- nestle them down into the tomato and vegetable mixture, but don't submerge them. Cover and transfer into the oven.
  6. Let cook at least one hour or until sauce has begun to reduce. If sauce is still thin, remove chicken and whisk in a slurry of 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water.

What's your biggest cooking regret from the week (so far)?

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