Chicken Cacciatore

I LOVE cooking anything with peppers, onions, and garlic.  When sauteeing these vegetables, the smell is AH-MAY-ZING.  Afritada, sausage and peppers, and chicken cacciatore.  SO GOOD.  Actually anything with peppers I think I love.  I have a slight addiction to them.  My dad used to grow them in our backyard when I was younger and it just reminds me of him.  During the summer months, there were so many that bloomed, that we’d grill them and have them for dinner.  So fresh and plain, yet SO.DAMN.GOOD. (pardon my french)

I’ve made Chicken Cacciatore using Pioneer Woman’s recipe and that is delish.  Super classic and yummy.  Bonus?  She feels the same way about braised meats as I do.  See my afritada post.

Recently, I tried Giada’s version.  I wasn’t going to try it because it had capers in it, which seemed a bit odd to me, but I decided I’d be adventurous.  Still good, although different.  When I make this dish again, I’d add some heat (red pepper flakes or fresno chilis) while sautee-ing the vegetables.  The saltiness from the capers and salt and sourness from the tomatoes and wine were there, but there was another depth of flavor missing.   I added a touch of creaminess by sprinkling the pappardelle noodles with parmesan cheese and pepper which just married the flavors so well together.  DELISH!

Giada De Laurentiis’ Chicken Cacciatore

Modifications by me in red

 *I know those are fusili noodles and it says fromvatoca.wordpress.com.  It’s an old picture and I’ve been meaning to share it with you.

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp of fresh cut parsley for garnish 

DIRECTIONS

*Note:  To make the dish lighter I took the skin off the chicken and used only 1 breast and two more thighs for more flavor slash bump up the iron.  

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell peppers, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with red chili flake, salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and parsley and serve with pasta.

afritada

I usually make this dish using chicken but I haven’t gone grocery shopping for meats lately.  We’re planning to move out of our apartment soon so I’ve been trying to use what we have in the refrigerator and pantry.  So this time I made the dish with pork.  I’ve made braised pork before with celery, peppers, and carrots ala Melissa D’Arabian, but I wanted to try making it with Filipino/Asian ingredients so I thought why not make a spin off of afritada.  Usually you’re just supposed to brown the meat without seasoning it with salt and pepper or dredging it in flower; however, I decided to do both.  Traditionally, you leave the browned meat in the pot and add the vegetables and liquid.  I however went with the method of browning the meat and taking it out and then adding the vegetables, some liquid, the browned meat and seasoning liquids.  The result:  delicious homecooked meal just jazzed up a little bit.  Definitely not your moms but something new for a change.  😛  The recipe below can also be made with chicken.

Pork Afritada (braised pork in tomato sauce)


Ingredients

2 pounds of pork, cut into bite sized cubes
2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered (or into bit sized cubes, whatever tickles your fancy)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
3 tbsp of cooking oil
salt and pepper
flour for dredging 

Directions

Heat pot and oil.  While the pot and oil are heating up, season the pork (or chicken if using chicken) with salt and pepper, then dredge the meat with flour.  When the oil is hot, place the meat in the pot and brown on both sides.  You may need to do this in batches.  Take the meat out and set aside.  Then add the onions to the pan.  Saute the onions until translucent.   Add the garlic and when fragrant, about a minute add the potatoes into the pan.  Followed by chicken stock to the pot to deglaze the bottom, make sure you scrape up any brown bits on the bottom.  Add tomato sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and the pork with the juices to the pot.  Let the sauce boil, cover, and reduce the heat to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour (I require a longer cook time than other recipes because I love my pork to be SUPER tender).  After 45 minutes add the peppers and allow to simmer for 15-20 more minutes or until pork and peppers are cooked through.  Serve with rice.

sweet, sour and spicy

I was going to write a post about the butternut squash gnocchi or butternut squash apple soup I made but I’m not 100% in love with those recipes slash somehow I failed.  I’ve had a couple of those days in the kitchen lately.  Especially with my oven.  I can NEVER get the timing and temperature right.  I don’t know if its me or just my oven.  I think it’s  a little bit of both.

But this recipe that I tried was a SUCCESS.  I didn’t know what to make with ground beef.  I was thinking hamburgers, but we didn’t have hamburger buns plus I knew we were going to have burgers during the weekend.  Meatballs, but spaghetti and meatballs again?  No thanks.  Meatballs stuffed with shrimp?  We just had that too.  And then I remembered that my dad used to make sweet and sour meatballs with peppers for us when I was little.  I quickly googled it and came up with the crockpock recipes (you know the one with the grape flavored jelly and chilli sauce with premade meatballs), but that’s not the one I wanted.  Then I found one from about.com.  I tried to find another recipe but this one would do.  To kick it up a notch I added some red pepper flakes for some heat… so it became a sweet, sour, and spicy meatball dish.  All flavors I LOVE!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs (adapted by about.com) – modifications by me in red


INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
2 cups water
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup sliced celery
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
1 green bell pepper, cut in strips
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 slices pineapple, cut into quarters (I used a pineapple snack pack)
1 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (or to taste depending on how hot you would like the dish)

DIRECTIONS

In large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs with minced onion, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup water. Add ground beef and egg. Shape beef mixture into 16 meatballs. Brown slowly in a large skillet over medium low heat. When browned and cooked through, remove meatballs from skillet and set aside. Cook celery and pepper strips in skillet for about 5 minutes. Add remaining water, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Mix cornstarch with a little cold water then add to skillet; stir well and cook for about 4 minutes. Add meatballs, pineapple slices. Cook until heated through.  And serve with rice (of course)!  🙂
Something I should probably mention.  Some of you may be saying “OH GROSS it has pineapples in it?”  The pineapple actually strengthens the sweetness aspect of this dish.  You can’t taste pineapple throughout the dish (I PROMISE!).  My husband HATES pineapples and he didn’t pick it out.  He actually ate it the pineapple (I was SHOCKED.  I thought he would push it to the side of his dish!) and said it was pretty good with the sauce and veggies.    This recipe is really simple.  It took me about 30 minutes.  I’m definitely going to save this recipe for another time.