Friday, 23 March 2012
Mamma Mia! Chicken Cacciatore, or Hunter's Chicken if you prefer...
...though I prefer Chicken Cacciatore. Sounds far more exciting if you ask me, and more suiting to this really lovely dish which was appreciated by all chez Lola and Finn recently.
I think this dish would not shame your best dinner party, it's that good. I suppose it depends on your usual dinner party shenanigans and if you're a black tie and tiara type of person who likes to get the best crockery out for such occasions then you might think that this perhaps lacks the finesse of your usual dinner party fare. That would be a shame. However, if you're a bit of a slapdash type of person like me who likes the sound of the clatter of forks and spoons at the table and the chatter of voices whilst digging into some glorious food, then this could be for you. And even if I were trying, I would don a little black dress and some sparkly earrings to sit down to eat this. Hell, I might even dig out my porcelain to eat it off.
This recipe is a bit of a fusion of various recipes for chicken cacciatore I have read over the years so I am going to sort of claim it as my own, with a nod to various influences along the way. I know that you can enrich the sauce with piquancy by adding capers or anchovy, which isn't really an option here as I have to think of the children (on a personal note, I would love it). I would use the sauce to hide alsorts of vegetables from the kids (on this occasion, mushrooms) and I definitely think it benefits from the pancetta that I fried off with the onions and the garlic. Lola and Finn both have a thing for tomato and mascarpone pasta sauce. I had no mascarpone but Philly cream cheese solved that problem most pleasingly.
I served this with pasta - weird wiggly stuff that I have forgotten the name of but was on offer in the supermarket. It's the length of spaghetti but thicker with a lovely little frilled edge. After I took the money shot, I slipped a piece of garlic bread on the plate to mop up all that lovely sauce. Well. it would have been rude not to.
Chicken Cacciatore - adapted from a hybrid of many many influences.
Serves Mum, Dad, Lola and Finn, with leftovers for Dad's "baggin'" the next day.
a large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a large cap mushroom, roughly chopped into smallish pieces
100g pancetta, diced (or you could use bacon bits, lardons, etc.)
3 chicken breasts, sliced into bitesize pieces
a glug of white wine. (I always have some open. What does that tell you?)
2 x tins of tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp of cream cheese
a handful of parsley and/or basil, plus extra for garnish
Parmesan shavings, or grated Parmesan if you prefer
Serve with pasta of your choice, and garlic bread if you believe you can never have too much carbohydrate.
In a suitable pot, or pan, saute off the onion in some olive oil until translucent but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook for a minute or so before adding the pancetta.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry off the chicken breast pieces until nicely coloured but not cooked all the way through. Remember to season the chicken whilst cooking. Set aside.
Once the onion mixture is nicely cooked, pour in a little white wine to loosen the mixture. Allow it to boil down a little before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season at this point and then allow it to cook down for about 15 minutes or so. You're looking for something that is glossy and slightly reduced.
Preheat the oven to 180c /Gas 5
At this point, add the cream cheese. Stir the cream cheese in until it has melted and the sauce takes on a more creamy look. Taste and season appropriately. You are looking for something quite highly flavoured to accommodate both the chicken and the pasta.
Add the chicken plus any juices. Then add the herbs. Put a lid on the pot and place in the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes. Within this time prepare your pasta.
To serve, pile up a serving past on the plate, spoon the chicken and sauce over and top with chopped parsley or basil and some shavings of Parmesan. Bellissimo!