Here is one of our family favorites. I am amazed I have not put this in here yet! What an oversight! Its time to put on some Dean Martin music, sip some good wine and pretend to be Sofia Loren! (unless you’re a guy, please… how about Al Pacino?)
It’s an easy enough dish, yet special in a way that we only make it a couple of times a year. Usually for my oldest sons birthday, since it is his favorite food on the planet, right up there with apple crisp. (which by the way, do not go together). And then on some random day, just because.
To my way of thinking, there are only two real differences in this sauce verses spaghetti sauce. There is no wine in this one and I add green peppers. The chicken of course, makes it different enough. But its the green peppers that make the biggest difference to the sauces flavor and I like to keep the sauce light, with no wine and using fresh or canned tomatoes, not just sauce.
I started today with the tomatoes. Homegrown tomatoes both from my garden (the Roma type) and from my moms (every other type).
I got a large pot half full of water on the stove to heating. When it was boiling, I got another large bowl, set it in the sink and filled it with water and ice. Then I cut an X in the top of each tomato and tossed it into the boiling water. (wait, don’t actually toss. Boiling water splashing around…?) After about 1-2 minutes, I spooned them out, a few at a time, and put them in the ice water. Their skins slipped right off, easy breezy. Then I set them in a bowl. (side note. Since then I have done this again with no X. I just put them in the boiling water, right off the vine, then the cold and the skins still slipped off neatly).
After they sat in the bowl for a while, I noticed water building up. I drained it off a couple of times, then went on to the “mooshing up” stage.
I put them into a blender, a few at a time, and pureed them. Now they went into a large pot to cook down at a low simmer.
This is not how I always make cacciatore. I could have just opened up a large can of tomatoes or even used some out of the freezer from another summers harvest. But I was out of those.
I often freeze summer tomatoes by popping them into the freezer, just as they are, skins and all, then when they become hard like frozen stones, put them into zip locks. When they thaw, they naturally melt down, and you can just blend them up, skins and all with a hand immersion blender. or a regular blender.
Where was I? Oh yes, the tomatoes are simmering and I want to add goodies to it.
I diced up about half a large onion to saute a bit in its own skillet with olive oil.
Then I added some pressed garlic to the onions and put this in the sauce.
I added a finely grated carrot, just because it adds to the sweetness. Diced up 1 bell pepper and put into the mix. You do not need to saute the carrots and pepper, I just mix them in. You can, but you don’t gots to.
This all went into the sauce along with a couple more cans of organic tomato sauce, some salt and pepper, a cube of frozen basil and some italian seasoning.
Let this just simmer.
Now for the chicken part.
You can use either boneless white meat chicken, cut into strips or chicken pieces. I dredge them in flour and brown in oil. Then place them in the sauce to finish cooking. I simmer them in the sauce about 40 minutes, then boil some water for the pasta of choice.
So here is your list:
tomatoes, canned or fresh (I used about 2 pounds fresh)
tomato sauce (2 regular 14 oz. cans, but I was feeding about 6 people)
1 green pepper
1 carrot, grated or shredded (optional)
garlic, 4, 6 10, whatever cloves
Dried Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
chicken, white meat or pieces, dredged in flour and browned.
Saute your onions for a few minutes in olive oil. Add as much garlic as you like and saute very little, no more than 1 minute.
Add your tomatoes, reduced from fresh or canned and add the sauce. Add some salt, pepper and spices. Add diced green peppers and some grated carrot if you like.
After browning, add the chicken pieces in and let them simmer in the sauce on very low heat, about 20-40 minutes depending. Boneless would be about 20 minutes, bone in pieces about 40.
There is your sauce. Make your pasta of choice. Ours is usually spaghetti with this. A salad. Maybe some focaccia bread to dip in the sauce.
I sure wish I had a picture to show you! We dished it up and at it too fast. I even forgot to shoot a pic of the leftovers we heated up a couple of days later. Drat! I will add one in next time I make it. Trust me in the meantime. It is wonderful goodness and light in a dish.
in the meantime, here is a picture of another chicken: