Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keep It Simple--

It's not just great advice for this crazy-busy season, it's one of THE main principals of authentic Italian cooking--keep it simple. In Chef Titina's kitchen, this means selecting the best ingredients (she shops the Capri Flavors store shelves before each class) then letting those flavors shine.

Her recipe for Chicken Cacciatore is a great example of a simple dish with shinning flavors. If you're thinking the Americanized peppers, onions and heavy tomato sauce, think again. Rosemary and a light touch of canned cherry tomatoes make Titina's version something special. Capers and olives also add lots of flavor straight from the jar.

So open a bottle of wine, invite a few friends into the kitchen, cook a little pasta and make a great one dish meal. Like the recipe says, Level of Difficulty:Simple--

This is a recipe you'll cook again and again.

Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-3 to 3 ½ pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and each breast cut in half crosswise)
1 medium onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced, or 3 large cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
½ cup dry white wine
¾ teaspoon salt
big pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 can 400 grams “Annalisa” cherry tomatoes
¼ cup black olives
¼ cup capers

Serves 4; Preparation: 10 minutes; Cooking Time: 55 minutes; Level of difficulty: Simple

In a 10 to 12 inch sauté pan with cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and when it is hot, brown the chicken on the skin side first, then the underside. Do not crowd the pan. Brown the chicken in batches if necessary, setting aside the browned chicken on a plate until the rest is done. When the last few pieces of chicken are almost browned and still in the pan, add the onion (or garlic) and rosemary and sauté until the onion is tender.
Arrange all the browned chicken in the pan, skin side up, and add the white wine. Season with salt and hot red pepper flakes, then let the wine cook until it has almost entirely evaporated, just a couple of minutes. While it is reducing, turn the chicken in the liquid once or twice, but leave it skin side up at the end. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and let cook at a gentle simmer, without turning, for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter, increase the heat to high, and let the sauce reduce for about 2 minutes. In the end, the sauce will be a creamy pink.
Pour the sauce over the chicken or use it to dress pasta (reserving some for the chicken) and serve immediately.

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