Chicken Paprikash

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A few weeks ago, I was reminiscing with some friends about our days as graduate students at Columbia in the early 70s.   After talking about friends, teachers, and seminars, it didn’t take us long before we started to recall some of our  favorite bars and restaurants near campus: the West End for drinks and burgers, The Symposium for Greek food, V & T’s for Italian and pizza, and The Green Tree for Hungarian.

The last of these was perhaps my favorite, for it served large portions at reasonable prices. At The Green Tree, I always ordered the same thing: chicken paprikash, which was served with a generous side of small Hungarian dumplings called nokedli. This was pure comfort food, especially during the winter.

Since our get-together, I’ve had a hankering for chicken paprikash and have made it a couple of times following recipes I’ve found on the Internet. (My copy of George Lang’s The Cuisine of Hungary having been lost to a flood after hurricane Sandy.)

My most recent attempt at this dish combined several recipes and came close to recreating the dish I enjoyed more than 40 years ago.

Chicken Paprikash

Ingredients

Ingredients
Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 bone-in, skin-on (preferably Kosher) dark-meat chicken quarters (about 3 pounds)
Salt
Freshly ground back pepper
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 green cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 heaping tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 large beefsteak tomato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
Thick egg noodles

Directions

Trim any excess skin and fat from the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.

In an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat the oil and the butter.

When hot, add the chicken skin-side down and cook each side until nicely browned, about 6 minutes a side.

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Remove the chicken from the pot and remove some of the excess fat from the pan.

Add onions scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and over medium heat cook the onions covered for 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure that the onions do not brown.

Then add the chopped pepper, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring once to avoid browning. Finally add the garlic and cook covered for another 2 minutes, again making sure not to brown the vegetables.

Adding garlic to onions and peppers
Adding garlic to onions and peppers

Add the paprika and the flour and cook stirring for 1 minute until the spice becomes fragrant.

Toasting the paprika
Toasting the paprika

Add the broth, whisking until smooth, and then add the chopped tomato. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Adding the tomatoes
Adding the tomatoes

Return the chicken skin side up in a single layer, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot and reduce the heat to medium.

Cover and cook until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

The cooked chicken
The cooked chicken

Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles following package directions.

Remove the chicken from the pan and, if necessary, cook the sauce over medium high heat to reduce liquid and thicken the sauce. About 3 minutes.

Off the heat, stir the sour cream into the sauce.

Adding the sour cream
Adding the sour cream
The finished suave
The finished sauce

On plates, arrange the noodles and chicken and generously ladle the sauce over them.

Some of the recipes I consulted were Martha Stewart’s Chicken Paprikash, Rachael Ray’s Hungarian Paprikash, and one from We The Eaters. Ray’s use of brined chicken led me to select Kosher chicken for this dish and several Internet recipes, like the one form the We the Eaters website, influenced by use of the cubanelle pepper.

Wine Pairing: Merlot

Chicken Cacciatore, Yet Again

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One of the cookbooks I remember from my youth was chef-restaurateur Romeo Salta’s The Pleasures of Italian Cooking, which was published in the early ‘60s. In its time, Salta’s New York City tony restaurant was a haven for celebrities and was well reviewed by the likes of Mimi Sheraton and Gael Greene. In fact, Sheraton is quoted in Salta’s NY Times obituary as saying: “New York has never had an Italian restaurant as good as Romeo Salta was in its heyday.”

The only recipe I vaguely recall from Salta’s book was one for a chicken cacciatore that, compared to my Neapolitan aunt’s, was far more involved and more heavily sauced.

About ten years ago, I came across another recipe for this classic dish in Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Italianthat evoked a recollection of Salta’s. Since that time, I’ve cooked it often, tweaking it and, in so doing, have probably made the dish less authentic and more Italian-American. Nevertheless, it’s one of my favorites and so I decided to share it here with my readers, even though I’ve already posted at least two others for this dish.

I’ve included a link here to the original  De Laurentiis recipe.

Ingredients

Ingredients--missing tomatoes
Ingredients–missing tomatoes

8-9 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (approximately 3 pounds) well trimmed of excess fat and skin
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1.5- to 2-inch chunks
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano whole tomatoes with juice, crushed
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 to 4 tablespoons non-pareil capers, rinsed and drained
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1.5 cups frozen peas, thawed
1.5 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
¼ cup coarsely torn fresh basil

Directions

1. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper.
2. Dredge the chicken thighs in the flour to coat lightly, shaking off any excess.

Floured chicken
Floured chicken

3. In a large heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

4. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. You may also want to remove any excess fat from the pan.
5. Add the bell peppers and onion to the same pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant about 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.

Sautéed Peppers, Onions, and Garlic
Sautéed peppers, onions, and garlic

7. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
8. Add the broth and simmer for another 2 minutes.

After wine and broth reduction
After wine and broth reduction

9. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, along with any juices that may have accumulated in the dish, and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Chicken returned to the pan
Chicken returned to the pan

10. Continue simmering uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
11. Add the peas and the mushrooms.

Adding peas and mushrooms
Adding peas and mushrooms

12. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Finished cooking
Finished cooking

13. 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 the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Wine Pairing: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Sauvignon Blanc

Chicken Scarpariello

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A request from my better half for chicken scarpariello, which by the way I had never had, led me to search my cookbooks for a recipe. None of them, however, contained one that met his expectations. Consequently, I expanded my (now our) search to the Internet, where we finally found a recipe by Anne Burrell on the Food Network website that came close to meeting all the requirements.

This Italian-American dish appears to have originated in New York City. Its name, scarpariello, or shoemaker style, has been attributed to its being “cobbled” together from several ingredients that play a key role in it: chicken, sausage, and cherry peppers.

Although a good number of versions call for cutting up the chicken into small pieces to better absorb the sauce, I chose to use whole thighs, which allow for a slightly longer cooking time to reduce the sauce without drying out the chicken. For the same reason, I also cut my sausages and peppers slightly larger than called for by the original recipe. Finally, rather than using hot cherry peppers, I opted for peppers that were labeled “hot & sweet” in order to reduce the heat and keep older digestive systems happy.

Chicken Scarpariello (Adapted from Anne Burrell on the Food Network Website)

Ingredients

Ingredients
Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fennel sausage, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
3-pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup hot and sweet cherry peppers halved or quartered depending on size
1/2 cup pepper juice, from the jar
1 cup chicken stock, plus a little more if needed
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Coat a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown well.

Browning sausage
Browning sausage

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Trim any excess skin and fat from the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper and add to the pan that the sausage was browned in. Brown the chicken well.

Browning chicken
Browning chicken

Once the chicken is brown on all sides, remove it from the pan and reserve.

Drain the oil from the pan and return it to the heat. Coat the pan lightly with new olive oil, add the onions, and season with salt. Cook the onions over medium heat until they are translucent and very aromatic, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Browning onions and garlic
Browning onions

Add the wine to the pan and reduce it by half. While the wine is reducing, scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

Reducing the wine and deglazing
Reducing the wine and deglazing

Return the sausage and chicken, along with any accumulated juices, to the pan and add the cherry peppers, cherry-pepper juice, chicken stock, and oregano.

The chicken and sausage
The chicken and sausage
Adding the peppers, pepper juice, stock and oregano
Adding the peppers, pepper juice, stock and oregano

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer, partially covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes; add more chicken stock if the sauce has reduced too much.

The finished dish
The finished dish

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. The finished dish should be slightly soupy, spicy, and delicious.

Wine Pairing: Chardonnay, Riesling

Chicken Roman Style

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Yesterday, I was inspired by a post on Diane Darrow’s insightful blog Another Year in Recipes to cook one of my favorite Roman dishes, pollo alla Romana. Darrow’s post focused on a contemporary recipe for the dish that she compared with her own, which she had published years ago in The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen. The newer recipe seemed far more involved than Darrow’s, which in my opinion more closely resembled the ones I’ve enjoyed in Roman trattorie.

I wrote to Darrow about the recipe I’ve always used for this dish from David Downie’s Cooking the Roman Way, which uses pancetta and roasted peppers. She responded, and I agree, that this recipe may reflect a trend in Italian cooking where people have more interest in experimenting and elaborating on simple traditional dishes.

Below is my adaptation of Downie’s recipe, which I must say yields an extraordinary chicken dish with many layers of flavor. I served the chicken with some grilled polenta, but crusty Italian bread would work just as well.

Pollo coi Peperoni alla Romana (Adapted from Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie.)

Ingredients
Ingredients

Ingredients
3 to 4 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, about 9 thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian crushed tomatoes
4 to 5 large red peppers, roasted, skinned, and seeded and then sliced into strips 1/2 to 1 inch wide and 1-1/2 to 2 inches long.
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat or skin and pat dry. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta. Sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the onion becomes translucent and the pancetta barely starts to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Sautéing onions and pancetta
Sautéing onions and pancetta

3. With a slotted spoon, remove the onions and pancetta from the pan to a bowl and cover with a lid.

Cooked onions and pancetta
Cooked onions and pancetta

4. Add the pepper flakes to the pan and stir briefly. Increase the heat to high, add the chicken parts skin side down and brown them thoroughly, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes. If the chicken is very fatty pour off some of the fat.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

5. Return the sautéed onions and pancetta to the pan and stir thoroughly.

6. Pour in the wine and boil to evaporate it, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Reducing the wine
Reducing the wine

7. Add the crushed tomatoes, the roasted peppers, and the oregano. Bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, partially covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

The finished dish
The finished dish

8. Serve immediately on warmed plates accompanied by polenta or crusty Italian bread.

Wine Pairing: Sangiovese di Romagna, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Merlot

Pressure-Cooker Chicken Curry

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Long, long ago when I was in graduate school and living in my first apartment, I started to have dinner parties. My guests were fellow students all of whom shared a love of food that was only constrained by our limited budgets. Each of us had a specialty: mine, of course, was Italian food, inspired by my family’s menus. Others ventured into French or vegetarian or Indian.

Granted, the authenticity of some of our dishes might not have met the more stringent standards of today’s foodies, but nevertheless they were quite tasty. Among the most delicious of these was my friend Leslie’s chicken curry that was always served with rice and Major Grey’s chutney along with a bottle of the then ubiquitous and affordable Schwarze Katz wine, a semi-dry Riesling blend.

The dish I’m writing about today brought back these memories of meals shared with fellow scholars on a budget. Given the ingredients and method of cooking, however, I fear that my kitchen credibility may be called into question by some of my readers.  But this chicken curry has become one of my quick-meal, easy clean-up, comfort-food staples perfect for a mid-week late night dinner. My recipe is roughly based on Lorna Sass’s “Curry in a Hurry” in her book Pressure Perfect.

Pressure-Cooker Chicken Curry

Ingredients
Ingredients


3 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, well trimmed of excess skin and fat
Madras curry powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 12.5-ounce jar Maya Kaimal Madras Curry Indian Simmer Sauce

1. Sprinkle the underside of the trimmed chicken thighs with the curry powder and salt to taste.

Seasoned chicken
Seasoned chicken

2. Place the chopped onion in a pressure cooker followed by the chicken thighs. I make two layers of chicken, starting with skin-side down for the bottom layer and then going to skin-side up for the top layer. 

3. Pour in a jar of the simmer sauce making sure to evenly distribute it over the chicken.

4. Lock the lid and and bring the cooker to high pressure, following the instructions of your cooker’s manufacturer. More often than not I use my electric pressure cooker, which facilitates bringing the pot to pressure. For stove-top cookers, Sass’s recipe recommends bringing the cooker to high pressure over high heat and then reducing the heat just enough to maintain high pressure.

5. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally for 4 minutes followed by quick release if necessary. Be careful of the steam, when removing the lid of your pressure cooker. If the chicken is not tender, simmer covered until done. If there is too much fat, you may wish to skim it from the top before serving.

Serve with steamed rice and chutney on the side.

Wine Pairing: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

Pollo all’Arrabbiata

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I love steak. Until recently, I could eat it five times a week—pan roasted, basted with butter, cooked medium rare, served with a drizzle of olive oil. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Unfortunately, given my age and my doctor’s recommendations, my steak indulgence is now limited to once a week. I’m now dining more healthfully, albeit less rapturously, with at least one vegetarian and one fish meal a week, and eating more chicken than I want to admit.

One chicken recipe that’s become a weeknight favorite is Pollo all’arrabbiata from Louie Werle’s book on Italy’s cucina povera, Italian Country Cooking. As the recipe’s name implies, the chicken is cooked in a tomato sauce with hot chili peppers. Starting with a soffrito of garlic, fatty pancetta, and fresh rosemary makes this dish even more flavorful.

As was recommended in the recipe, I served the dish with polenta. Given my time constraints on a weekday night, however, I opted for an “instant” polenta, which I prepared with chicken broth, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano.

I’ve always  followed the recipe closely, but the next time I prepare it, I’ll probably cut the tomatoes into halves to extract more of their flavor.

Ingredients
Ingredients

Pollo all’arrabbiata
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
4 whole chicken legs (thighs and legs), about 3 pounds
1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry red wine
2 hot red chilies, chopped (I substituted dried Calabrian chilies, crushed.)
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Soffrito
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 ounces fatty pancetta, cut into cubes (I used slightly more than 2 ounces.)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

To make the soffrito, combine the garlic, pancetta, and rosemary in a small food processor and pulse until fairly finely chopped.

The soffrito
The soffrito

Transfer the mixture to a heavy-based pot, add the oil and cook over moderate heat until the pancetta is golden, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

The browned soffrito
The browned soffrito

Turn the heat up to high, add the onion, chicken, and garlic cloves and brown the chicken well on both sides, about 8 minutes.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

Stir in the wine and cook 1 minute. (I used this time to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.)

Adding the wine
Adding the wine

Then add chili and tomatoes, and season with salt.

The tomatoes and chilies
The tomatoes and chilies

Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook gently for 40 minutes. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted between the thigh and leg. Check seasoning. Serve on deep, heated plates with polenta.

The finished dish
The finished dish

Serves 4. (Like most braised dishes, this chicken is even better when re-heated a day or tow later.)

Wine Pairing: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange

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My Neapolitan aunt, an outstanding home cook, was never one for fancy food; her dishes were simple and straightforward, her presentations were always family style, and her only garnish, if any, was some chopped parsley.

While America was rediscovering French cuisine in the 60s, she and I would watch the original Julia Child shows. However, if Julia would demonstrate something elaborate like roasting a pig or cooking swordfish “in monk’s clothing,” my aunt would look askance at the television, mumble something like “che stravagante,” and leave the room.

Well, last night I think my aunt might have had a similar reaction if she were to have been watching me prepare Mark Bittman’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange from The New York Times. It’s not a complicated recipe, but requires repeated braising and rotating the pan every ten minutes to achieve a mahogany-colored bird.

The result was good, with crisp skin and moist meat, but I know if my aunt were still around and watched the preparation, she would have remarked as I did: “non vale la pena” (not worth the effort).

Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange from The New York Times
INGREDIENTS
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3-pound chicken, giblets and excess fat removed

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a nonstick roasting pan, or line a roasting pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.

Combine orange juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl, and whisk until smooth. Place chicken in pan, and spoon all but 1/4 cup of liquid over all of it.

Place chicken in oven, legs first, and roast for 10 minutes. Spoon accumulated juices back over chicken, reverse pan back to front, and return to oven. Repeat four times, basting every 10 minutes and switching pan position each time. If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat a bit. If juices dry up, use reserved liquid and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice.

After 50 minutes of roasting, insert an instant-read thermometer into a thigh; when it reads 155 to 165 degrees, remove chicken from oven, and baste one final time. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Wine Pairing: Chardonnay

Campanian Chicken alla Cacciatore

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Last week when I wrote about chicken cacciatore, I invited my readers to submit their favorite recipe for the dish. Well, fellow blogger and cookbook author, Diane Darrow, who publishes “Another Year in Recipes,” an extremely informative and culinarily literate food blog, submitted her recipe.

It was for a Campanian version of the dish, which intrigued me for two reasons. First, it did not require browning the chicken, thus eliminating the dreaded cleanup associated with this process. Second, before any tomato is added, the chicken is infused with the flavors of a battuto, a mince of carrots, onion, and celery.

So last night I decided to make the recipe exactly as it was presented on Diane’s blog. I’m happy to report that it turned out perfectly, with succulent chicken napped in aromatic and savory sauce.

Since her recipe is richly illustrated, I chose to provide a link to it below and use only one photo of my finished dish. I strongly recommend trying this recipe as well as checking out Diane’s blog. Here is the link: Campanian Chicken alla Cacciatore.

Wine Pairing: Greco di Tufo, Sauvignon Blanc

Timballo di Orzo or Cacciatore Redux

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Because I cook at home almost every night, our refrigerator is often at its max capacity. As I triage the remainders of meals gone by, tossing out wilted parsley, a shriveled zucchini, and sundry unidentifiable objects, I often find some salvageable items. Such was the case yesterday, when I discovered a couple of chicken thighs from Thursday’s cacciatore, a half a bottle of tomato passata from a pasta dish, a half of a smoked mozzarella along with some basil from Friday’s pizza night, and a small chunk of ricotta salata.

After I put these discoveries aside, I rummaged through my pantry to see if there was anything there I could use with them. When I saw a box of orzo and a canister of bread crumbs , I thought why not make a small timballo, in other words, bake the orzo along with the other ingredients.

I removed the skin and bones from the two leftover chicken thighs, pulled the meat apart, and placed it together with the sauce from the cacciatore into a 2.5 quart saucepan. To supplement the scant sauce, I added the half bottle of passata and some chopped basil to the pan, which I covered and placed on a low flame for about 20 minutes.

While the chicken and sauce were reheating, I cooked 8 ounces of the orzo until just a few minutes before it would reach al dente and then drained it well. Meanwhile, I cut the smoked mozzarella into chunks, grated the ricotta and some Parmigiano-Reggiano, and finally buttered an 8” x 8” baking dish, which I dusted with a couple of tablespoons of dried breadcrumbs.

After the chicken and sauce were fully reheated, I stirred in the orzo and let it cook for a few minutes so that it would be infused with the sauce. I then tasted it and adjusted for seasoning, with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I transferred half the chicken and orzo mixture to the baking dish and spread it into an even layer, which I then covered with half of the mozzarella, ricotta salata, and Parmigiano. I subsequently made a second layer with the remaining chicken and orzo, which I then topped with the remainder of the three cheeses.

I placed the baking dish into a preheated 375° F oven and baked it for about twenty minutes. When it was finished cooking, I removed the dish, tented it with some foil, and let it rest for about 10 minutes so that it would firm up a bit.

Finished timballo
Finished timballo

I must admit this dish was delicious and turned out far better than I had thought it would. (In fact, that’s one of the reasons I have no photos, as I usually do, of its preparation.) The pasta was richly flavored, the chicken succulent, and the melted cheese, creamy and piquant, tied everything together. Yet what was even more satisfying was being able to create this dish from what could have easily found its way into the trash. My frugal mother would have been proud.

Wine Pairing: Chianti, Merlot

Neapolitan Chicken Cacciatore

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Except for the Italian-American chicken parm, cacciatore  (Italian for hunter’s style) may be the most ubiquitous poultry offering on Italian restaurant menus. As might be expected, given its popularity, there are many variations on the dish both here in the U.S. as well as in Italy. Even at home, my mother and my aunt, Sicilian and Neapolitan respectively, prepared their distinctive versions: my mother’s more savory with capers, olives, and vinegar; my aunt’s more sweet and spicy with onions, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper.

Last night, I chose to prepare a version closer to my aunt’s based on a recipe from Arthur Schwartz’s Naples at Table. This Neapolitan cacciatore epitomizes the simplicity of Italian cooking, calling for just a few ingredients and a minimum of technique. However this austerity requires that the basic ingredients, the prima materia, be of the highest quality—especially the tomatoes. My aunt would use the Roma tomatoes she jarred every August. Working in the confines of a New York City apartment, I rely on the imported canned whole San Marzano variety. As for technique, it’s essential that you take the time to brown the chicken thoroughly and avoid overcrowding the pan to get the most flavor from the bird.

I’m sure many of my readers have their own version of cacciatore and I would enjoy hearing about them. As I said earlier the recipe below is based on one from Arthur Schwartz. The original recipe uses a whole chicken and also includes a variation with red peppers. Here’s a link to the original on the author’s website.

Chicken Cacciatore Adapted from Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, well trimmed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion sliced thin (3/16”)
2 5-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup dry white Vermouth
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 28 ounce can imported whole and peeled San Marzano tomatoes, well-drained and coarsely chopped

The basic ingredients
The basic ingredients

1. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. In a 12-inch saute pan with cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat and when it is hot, brown the chicken on the skin side first, then the underside. Do not crowd the pan. Brown the chicken in batches if necessary, setting aside the browned chicken on a plate until the rest is done.

Browned chicken
Browned chicken

3. When the last few pieces of chicken are almost browned and still in the pan, add the onion and rosemary sprigs and sauté until the onion is tender.

Adding the onions and rosemary
Adding the onions and rosemary

4. Arrange all the browned chicken in the pan, skin side up, and add the vermouth. Add the hot red pepper flakes, and then let the wine cook until it has almost entirely evaporated, just a couple of minutes. While it is reducing, turn the chicken in the liquid once or twice, but leave it skin side up at the end.

Reducing the wine
Reducing the wine

5. Add the tomatoes. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and let cook at a gentle simmer, without turning, for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Check the pan every so often to make sure the sauce does not stick to the pan.

With the tomatoes
With the tomatoes

6. Remove the chicken to a serving platter, increase the heat to high and let the sauce reduce for about 2 minutes. Adjust for seasoning.

Reducing the sauce
Reducing the sauce

7. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Wine Pairing: Taurasi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo