Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chicken Cacciatore

Hello, everyone!  What a crazy week!  Yesterday was my birthday, and it was a really, really lovely day, from the overflow of love from friends and family, down to the amazing weather; hard to ask for a better day!
My husband took our daughter to school with me (she loves when Daddy is able to come with us!), after which he and I went to one of our favorite cafes for a quick breakfast!  
After that, I went over to the dollar store, and picked up a ton of stuff for my daughter's Easter basket!  I love that they have licensed Disney stuff, all for a dollar!  I know Easter is a couple of weeks away, but I'm a big time planner, so I'm happy now that her Easter basket is all together and ready to go!
Wow!  That was a little bit off course from why we're here today, wasn't it?
Anyway, my point is, I had a really lovely birthday, and while I didn't have this for my birthday supper, it is one of my favorite suppers to have.  
I don't recall eating a lot of chicken cacciatore while growing up, but we sure do eat it fairly often now!  Chicken stewed in garlic and tomatoes for a couple of hours, not only fills the house with amazing smells, but it leaves the chicken juicy and packed full of flavor!  I like to serve this over rice, but orzo is a good option, as is quinoa!  Don't forget to serve this with some fresh bread, or some fluffy yeast rolls, because you're going to want to sop up the juices with this supper!  
Here's your grocery list for this one:
2-3 chicken breasts, bone-in
1 Tbs canola oil (or other mild flavored oil)
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs dried oregano
1/2 Tbs dried thyme
3-4 bay leaves
1 (15 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes, not drained
2 C fresh spinach, optional

Okay, lets get started!  I like to do all of this in one pot, but you can certainly do this in a slow cooker, which makes this a fantastic weeknight meal!  I'll go over that as we work on this recipe, so you'll know how to do this along those lines, too.  I do this often during the summer, too - I hate heating the house up with the stove top in the summer, but it is often a necessary evil for me....but, I digress.  
So, to start off with, preheat a large dutch oven over medium high heat; once preheated, add in your oil, and let this come up to heat.  It should take just a second or two - you'll know it is preheated when the oil is shimmering.  While your pot is preheating, dry your chicken breasts off (I went over why you should do this in my brined, bone in chicken breasts post).  Once all of that is ready to go, place your chicken breasts in the pot, skin side down, and do not touch this for 5-7 minutes, so that the skin can caramelize.  I didn't let mine get very dark, but I was in a rush when I made this up!  In the end, it isn't the end of the world if your skin doesn't get very browned, since it is going to braise for a couple of hours, anyway.  Besides, the tomatoes will lend a nice color to the end result anyway.  While your skin is browning, sprinkle the exposed meat side with half of the Kosher salt.  If your pot won't allow you to put all of your chicken in at once, make sure to do this in batches - you don't want to just steam your chicken at this point.  

While your chicken is browning, mince up your garlic; after your 5-7 minutes, flip the chicken over, and let the other side brown for another couple of minutes.

Look at all of that yummy, flavorful juice in the bottom of the pan!  How about we bump the flavors up?  Add in the garlic, add in all of the herbs/spices and spinach, and cook for about two minutes - at this point, if you are going to use a slow cooker, move all of this to your slow cooker instead of leaving it in the dutch oven.

Add in your crushed tomatoes, and your diced tomatoes, giving this a good stir, to make sure that everything is well incorporated.  Put your chicken back in, and pour the chicken stock in over everything, and try your best to stir it in together, but don't knock yourself out, I just kind of stick my spoon up under the chicken and move it around a bit.  No big deal.  Cover this, and let it simmer, over medium-low heat, for 2-3 hours (or, in a slow cooker, on high for 2 hours, or low for 4-5 hours).
This chicken will be tender, juicy, and packed full of flavor!