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2/09/2018 7:42 am  #1

Cold Weather Classic

I always thought that chicken cacciatore was an under appreciated dish.It is delicious. Unfortunately, in the 1970s every Ma and Pa Italian restaurant on the east coast offered some version of overcooked chicken in tomato sauce that ruined it's reputation. But the original is sublime.

Chicken Cacciatore

½  ounce dried mushrooms, like porcini (1/2 cup)
2  tablespoons olive oil
 Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 to 8  skinless chicken legs and/or thighs (thighs can be boneless)
1  small onion, minced
1  small carrot, minced
3  ribs celery, minced
2  large garlic cloves, minced
2  tablespoons fresh minced Italian parsley
1  heaped teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
¼  teaspoon red pepper flakes
½  pound mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
½  cup red wine
1  28-ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice, pulsed in a food processor

Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl or heat-proof glass measuring cup and pour on 2 cups boiling water. Let sit 15 to 30 minutes, until mushrooms are softened. Drain through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel and set over a bowl. Rinse the mushrooms in several changes of water, squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely. Set aside. Measure out 1 cup of the soaking liquid and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown, in batches, for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl as they are done. Pour the fat off from the pan and discard.

Turn the heat down to medium, add the remaining oil and the onion, carrot and celery, as well as a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Cover, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until the mixture is soft and aromatic.

Stir in the fresh and dried mushrooms, turn the heat back up to medium, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the wine has reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down a little and smell fragrant. Stir in the mushroom soaking liquid that you set aside.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan and stir so that they are well submerged in the tomato mixture. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve with pasta or polenta

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

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