Friday, October 13, 2006

Dinner with Mario

I've been on a quest. For as long as I've been cooking, I've been in search of the perfect Chicken Cacciatore. I don't know where that desire came from. I didn't grow up eating it or anything, it just appealed to me. I've tried several recipes from several sources, but it wasn't until last night that I found perfection.

I should have known to go with an Italian Chef. Last night I cracked open a little used cookbook, Molto Italiano by Mario Batali. A wonderful book to read, as I read through the recipe for Pollo alla Cacciatora, it struck me as very simple, which is what I thought it should be. It is a lengthy process, after all, Chicken Cacciatore is a braised dish, so it does take some time. I started by marinating the chicken. Mario's directions made a paste which you rubbed on the chicken and then chilled for 2 hours. I simplified that by using my Foodsaver Marinator- cutting down the 2 hours to 15 minutes. I also needed to make a simple tomato sauce, and I did use Mario's recipe for that as well. The sauce itself was simple and delightful, I intend on using it later this weekend for lasagna, actually.

The only real change I made to the recipe as a whole was to reduce the oil by a lot. The entire recipe called for 1/2 cup of olive oil. And when you're adding chicken fat to it later on as well, that's a whole lot of fat going on. So I used a nonstick pot and started with 2 tablespoons of oil. I also used 2 tablespoons of oil in the marinade initially. That was the perfect amount for getting the chicken nicely browned. And in the end, I actually scooped off the layer of oil on top of the dish, and removed over 1/2 a cup of chicken fat, so I was very glad I reduced the oil. And I doubt the dish needed the excess. It was wonderful. Andy has always been hesitant about chicken cacciatore, and last night he was licking his plate clean and eyeing up for a third helping before deciding against it. This is now my standard chicken cacciatore recipe, and I am ever grateful to Mario Batali.

Pollo alla Cacciatora

No comments: