Serves two parents and two young ones
- Minus the bread for serving this this is gluten free, a consideration in our household.
- Increase the meat to two pounds for four adults (or older children).
Serves two parents and two young ones
A favorite from my childhood, Pollo alla Cacciatore is a dish I don’t make frequently enough these days but which is also a favorite in our young family. Translated as hunter style chicken I am not sure where this dish originated from as just about every other recipe for pollo alla cacciatore uses plum tomatoes or tomato sauce, and this family version does not. Evidently every region, and even every family, has their own variation. I had never even heard of it having tomato until I once saw this on a restaurant menu. I tried it, and here is the version as we make it.
1 whole chicken, cut up
5-10 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine (not sweet)
3-4 leaves sage, torn
1 sprig rosemary (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
olive oil for browning the chicken
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
Heat a wide pot on medium to medium-high heat (6-7 on my electric stove top). Brown the chicken in batches without overcrowding to prevent boiling (you know, when too much liquid builds up in the pot and the meat doesn’t brown but turns gray instead), adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the browned chicken from the pot to make room for the next batch and keep at it until all the chicken has been browned.
When done return all the chicken to the pot, reduce the heat a notch (6 on my stove), and add the garlic. Quickly sweat the garlic to release the flavor stirring everything together to avoid burning. Add the sage, the rosemary, give it all a quick stir, then add the white wine and bring to a medium boil, and allow the wine to reduce by half. Add about 1/2 a cup of water and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Check on it periodically, adding a little more water if needed to prevent the liquid from cooking out completely. After about 30 minutes add the vinegar, adjust the salt and pepper if needed and cook for another 5 minutes.
A few serving suggestions for this dish are wild rice, mashed potatoes, polenta, risotto, a pasta such as farfalle, or simply with a salad. A baguette or other crusty bread is also must to soak up the sauce.
The amount of garlic in this dish can vary widely depending on your taste. I love garlic so I use a lot and mince it. If you are not keen on garlicky foods you can put less garlic and slice it instead of mincing it which will reduce the intensity of the flavor.
If the heat is too high when you add the garlic and you find it turning brown, quickly add the white wine to stop the frying of the garlic. You don’t want it to burn as it will imbue a burnt flavor to the dish. (Mind you I’d still eat it but it won’t be the same). You can add the sage and rosemary right after.
If you are not partial to vinegar you can omit it from the recipe. Indeed adding the vinegar is a new development as my mother never added it when I was living at home. It is something she introduced us too on one of her visits and we have continued to use it since as it adds an extra dimension to the dish.
This is one I like to make whenever I find reasonably priced artichokes. If you’ve seen some of the outrageously priced artichokes the stores try to sell, you know what I mean. $4-5 per? I don’t think so. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you they usually have reasonably priced artichokes, the small ones or the large ones. For this dish I use the large ones as they work best. If you’re looking for artichokes you dip in mayonnaise, this isn’t it. I’m not snobby, just partial to the style of cooking I grew up with – which did not include much mayonnaise.I use one large artichoke per person. Because of the size it’s hard to fit more than 4 or 5 in a pan so I make this as a side dish.
Prepare the artichokes by pulling off the toughest outer leaves, usually a layer or so, and cut off about a quarter or a third of the top of the leaves to cut off all the sharp tips. The top of the artichoke needs to be flat so you can lay them upside down on the bottom of the pan. You can use scissors to trim off the sharp tips of the shorter leaves. I use a vegetable peeler to peel the stems, and cut off just the very end which is usually dark and a little dry. Do not throw the waste into the garbage disposal in your sink as you will regret it.Slice about a clove of garlic per artichoke and a handful of Italian parsley (flat or curly – doesn’t matter). Now for the work.
Take each artichoke by the stem, and press it down against the cutting board to spread out the leaves a little. If the leaves are pretty thick I sort of slam the choke down on the board to get the job done. Then stuff the garlic slices and parsley between the leaves, pushing them in so it doesn’t all come falling out when you flip them over to put them in the pan. Salt to taste and rub it in well.
Heat up a deep pan or pot – deep enough to cover the artichokes standing up and not enough room for the chokes to fall over – on the stove a little over medium heat (6 or 7 on my stove), and put in about 1/3 cup of olive oil. How much olive oil exactly depends on the width of your pan, but you want the artichoke to sit in about 1/4″ deep. Put the artichokes in the pan upside down and let them brown for 30 seconds to a minute. Add a 1/2 cup or so white wine, and enough water to almost cover the artichokes, about 3/4″ – 1″ before the stem. I like to sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over the outer leaves and stem too for a little more flavor. Bring it all up to a boil, then reduce and simmer covered for about 45 minutes to an hour, adding some water if necessary.
When done the water should be reduced by half or more, but the pan should never get dry. Remove from pan and plate. Spoon some of the pan juices over each artichoke. To eat simply pluck the leaves off one at a time and, using your front teeth, scrape the meat from the bottom third or so of the leaf while sucking on it. When you get down to the middle you might want to discard the very small soft leaves, or suck on the juices then discard them. Not very graceful I’m sure but so good. Just don’t let the juices run down to your elbows. To eat the heart, cut off the beard (the hairy stuff) and eat the heart and the stem.