Chicken Cacciatore – “Hunter Stew”

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Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, herbs, and sometimes wine. Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken (pollo alla cacciatora) or rabbit (coniglio alla cacciatora). Basically the hunters would use what they could gather in the woods, and use gamey meats like rabbit, venison, etc. I will have mine without Thumper and Bambi please.

I am not really sure of how chicken was introduced, though one story is that if the hunter returned home empty handed his wife would go out back and kill a chicken and add it to the vegetable stew.

Another story is that the chicken got into the hunter’s vegetables like carrots, onion, and celery. And when the hunter caught the chicken, he became the dinner for the hunter and his family.

There are so many different variations of this dish based upon ingredients available in specific regions. For example, in southern Italy, cacciatore often includes red wine, while northern Italian chefs might use white wine. Some variations include bell peppers and mushrooms mixed in with the vegetables. I wish I had mushrooms on hand when I made this meal, the sauce would have gone great with the flavors of the mushrooms.

Chicken Cacciatore – “Hunter Stew”

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs chicken, I used boneless/skinless thighs and breasts
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium red onion, thinly sliced root to tip
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white or red wine, I used red wine.
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 ts salt & pepper
  • 1 ts dry basil (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
  • 1 ts dry parsley (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3-4 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a large heavy pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Once everything is combined coat chicken pieces on both sides. Place chicken in the hot oil and cook 5-6 minutes on both sides. Once chicken is done remove from pan.
  3. In the same pan that the chicken was cooked it add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onions are tender. Add the parsley and stir to combine.
  4. Slowly add the chicken stock to pan. Using a spatula deglaze the pan. Bring to a slow boil.
  5. Add in the 1/2 cup wine. Bring back to a boil. Boil on medium-high for 5 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan and continue to cook until the chicken is completely cooke all the way, about 30-40 minutes.

We served ours over white rice. You can serve it over pasta, rice or potatoes. I hope that you enjoyed this little trip to Italy as much as we did. What country will our taste buds take us to next time?

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Spinach Pasta & Chicken Alfredo Dinner

A few days ago I made chicken alfredo with my homemade spinach pasta and it was a hit. And of course I was not expecting it to be such a great success I didn’t write down what I did. I do that a lot. 🙂

My husband asked for it again and this time I wrote it down. GO ME! 😀 Even my non-pasta loving child was asking for second and thirds. I think this is going to be on our menu for a while.

Spinach pasta & Chicken Alfredo

Spinach pasta & Chicken Alfredo

Alfredo has this expensive Italian sounding name but it is so easy to make, don’t be afraid. I have seen other recipes that call for cream cheese and I just couldn’t do that. To me cream cheese belongs on a bagel or for the base of a great tasting 7 layer dip. My Aunt Karen use to make this 7 layer dip all the time, and I can remember just eating the shredded cheese on top. But I digress. I wanted the sauce to be simple yet still have a ton of flavor and this is perfect.

Spinach Pasta & Chicken Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 5 oz parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb spinach pasta, fettuccine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBS parsley, chopped
  • 1 TBS garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. In a large deep frying pan, fill about 3/4 way of water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling add spinach pasta. Cook until tender: about 3-4 if using homemade pasta or 8-11 minutes using store bought pasta. <- See mine is faster cooking time 🙂
  2. Once pasta is done drain. Set to the side.
  3. Put pot back on the stove and drizzle a little olive oil in the center. Added garlic, cook until fragrant. Add chicken. Cook until done. About 10 minutes. Once done remove chicken.
  4. In the same frying add 1 cup a chicken stock and deglaze the pan. We don’t want all that yummy chicken flavor to go to waste.
  5. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour and the last 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Once combined add to frying pan. Cook over medium-low until sauce thickens.
  6. Once sauce is thick add the heavy cream and stir. Slowly add in the parmesan cheese in small batches, stirring after each addition. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add back in the chicken and let warm up in the sauce. Finally toss the pasta back into the sauce. Sprinkle in the parsley and serve.

This whole meal will take about 30 minutes to make and you only used 1 pot to make it. No, I am not kidding you. Easy to make and easy to clean up. For a busy family I don’t know what more you can ask for. This is where buying things like meat in bulk helps save money. Now let’s take a look at the break down.

$5 for the chicken + $0.45 for the chicken stock + $0.50 for the pasta + $0.05 parsley + $1.50 for the heavy cream + $0.05 for flour +$1.25 for parmesan cheese + $.05 for garlic = total $8.85. Now I feed 5 people, but since the average family is 4 we will base the serving price off of 4 people. That breaks down to $2.22 per serving. You can not go out and buy a meal for one person for that price.

Stocking up on Chicken Stock

9 jars of canned chicken stock

9 jars of canned chicken stock

We all have roasted a chicken or turkey at some point. Whether it is for a big Thanksgiving day meal or a simple Sunday dinner. But did you know that throwing away the bones you are throwing away money?! I know crazy thought but it is true. You can take those bones and turn them into chicken/turkey stock for your next soup, gravy, etc. And stretch you money even further. I know what you are thinking, you don’t have time to slave over a hot stove all day. Well guess what, you don’t have to. Follow these very simple steps and I promise you are not going to buy stock or bouillon again.

I made this batch of chicken stock from my BBQ pulled chicken we had for dinner last night. I just boiled the chicken first then separated the meat from the bones. Put the bones back in and shredded the chicken for what I want. Waste not want not.

Simple Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3-4 lbs
  • 16 cups water
  • 2 stalks celery
  • bundle of  parsley
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 large carrots

Directions:

  1. Combine chicken and water in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove from heat. Skim off foam.DSC_0019
  2. Remove chicken from stock, reserving chicken for another use. DSC_0020After taking all the meat off the bones put all the remains back into the stock. Let simmer for 1 hour. DSC_0022Strain stock through a sieve or several layers of cheesecloth.DSC_0031
  3. You may have to do this a couple of times to get everything out.
  4. Allow stock to cool until fat solidifies. Skim off fat. <- This is important. you don’t want to can fat, it is not safe for canning. But if you are going to place it in the freezer, this step would be up to you.
  5. Heat stock to a boil. <- At this point you can either  freeze your stock or you can can it. I prefer canning. Follow the directions below for canning.

For canning the stock:

  1. Prepare pressure canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

    DSC_0036

    Heat jars and lids in the canner for 10 minutes.

  2. Ladle hot stock into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.DSC_0037
  3. Process filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. 

See I told you would not be in the kitchen all day making this stock. There are so many benefits to making your own stock 1) it is healthier than store bought 2) you know everything that went into making it 3) will help cut down on cooking time 4) has a much better flavor 5) you are not wasting money by buying something you can do yourself 6) it cost a fraction of the store bought. I can go on forever talking about the money you can save by canning and making things at home. 🙂

Okay let’s look at the break down of making the chicken stock:

$2 for the chicken bones + $0.15 for the carrots + $0.25 for the celery + $0.60 for the onion + $0.10 for the parsley = total is $3.10 to make one large pot stock. That break done to $0.45 for every 16 oz jar canned (about every 2 cups). Try going to the store and buying it at that price to make that much, I bet you can’t. And your homemade stock is sooo much better.

Rememeber: these are only estimates for the area that I live in. Your prices maybe be different.

Summer Time Chicken Grilling

I love my grill! Some might say I have an unhealthy fascination with it. Once the weather warms up, the stove and oven are off, and that grill is lit.

Nothing says warm weather more then the smell of good food on the grill. It can be anything: burgers, chicken, hot dogs, sausage, and steak. They all smell so good, and they look great with the grill marks when they come off the grill. I love my grill. Even grilled vegetables are great on the grill. I like putting vegetables in a little foil packet with a pat of butter then throwing them on the grill to cook. Oh, the flavors are just amazing. Simple to do yet you get such great aromas and flavors.

Tonight was no different. Grilled Honey-Mustard Chicken with Brussels Sprouts. Now since I make my own mustard it will have a different flavor than store bought, but it tastes great with either one. This is one of my to go to meals during the hot months, and let’s face it, in the South, that’s about eight months out of the year.

Honey-Mustard Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Honey-Mustard Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

 

 Grill Honey-Mustard Chicken

  • 2 whole chicken breast, cut in half
  • 1.5 TBS deli mustard
  • 3 TBS honey

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the mustard and honey. Set to the side for later.
  2. Start the grill. Give the grill a few minutes to warm up. Place chicken skin side down on the grill. Cook for about 25 minutes.
  3. Using either a spoon or a grill brush spread a small amount of the honey-mustard on the chicken. For for about 5 minutes then turn over and spread another small amount of honey-mustard on the turned side.
  4. Keep turning the chicken and spreading the honey-mustard over the chicken until it has been used up. You want to coat the chicken slowly so not to burn the chicken.

Enjoy with vegetables of your choice.

 

Citrus Herb-Salt Rub

I love coming up with new ideas for food, if you haven’t noticed. Well the other day I was looking through one of my favorite magazines to get ideas and I saw this herb-salt rub that looked great, I just had to try it. The only thing was I missing was rosemary, I had used the rest for Thanksgiving that I just never replaced. So I changed it up a little bit and added oregano instead and added some cinnamon.

It just smelled so good. The lemon zest just brightens it up. I was trying to figure out what this would taste better on chicken with skin or without. I decided to go with having the chicken skin on. We had just bought chicken thighs the day before I thought this would be perfect on them. Added a little butter to help give the skin a little extra crunch.

Citrus Herb-Salt Rub

  • 3/4 coarse salt
  • 2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tbs dried Parsley
  • 3 Tbs dried Thyme
  • 3 Tbs dried Oregano
  • 1/2 ts sugar
  • 1/2 ts paprika
  • 1/2 ts red flakes
  • 1/2 ts cinnamon

Directions:

Mix everything together until well blended. Store in an air tight container up to 3 months.

For the Chicken:

Place thighs on baking dish and lightly sprinkle mixture over chicken. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45min-60min or until done.

Chicken Vegetable Pasta in a Garlic Sauce

This is what happens when I have too much spare time and lefts.  A few nights ago we had a whole chicken, which we never completely eat, so instead of throwing away the left overs, we freeze it. What do to with left over chicken and an extra bulb of garlic? We make a pasta dish of course. I looked through my fridge to see what else we had on hand. And to my surprise we had carrots, peppers, corn, and onions. So I just took a little bit of each, chopped them up and added them into our pasta dish to make a complete meal.

Finished product was yummy as can be. Enjoy.

Chicken Vegetable Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 16 oz rigatoni
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan combine 3 cloves of garlic, butter, and stir in flour once butter is melted. Slowly add milk and whisk until combined. Cook on a simmer.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat cook chicken until no longer pink inside, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable to chicken and saute until the vegetables are tender. Then turn the heat to low.
  3. In a large sauce pot bring water to a boil and add pasta. Once pasta is al dente strain pasta. Add pasta to the chicken and stir together.
  4. Add garlic sauce to chicken and pasta and mix until well combined. Cook on low heat until thoroughly heat up. Enjoy.

Chinese Take Out Made In

I love Chinese food. It has been a tradition in my family to eat it every New Year’s Eve. So when I got married I carried that tradition with me. My only problem is it can get expensive and with this economy I want to save as much money as I can. So I ordered Chinese one night and started to figure out what was in them and make them myself. The biggest difference is I baked my egg rolls and didn’t fry them and I used brown rice. I made 20 egg rolls and only had 6 left over and a cup of rice. I have never seen my family eat Chinese this fast or this much before.

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

3 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon teriyaki sauce
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 cups cold, cooked rice
6 green (spring) onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions:

Beat eggs with a whisk in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat very little oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat and make an omelet using half the beaten eggs. Turn out onto a plate to cool (do not fold omelet). Repeat process with remaining beaten eggs. Place 1 omelet on top of the other, fold and coarsely chop. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss chicken strips with the sesame oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat in large frying pan or wok and stir-fry the prepared chicken strips until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until onion has softened. Add 2 tablespoons more vegetable oil and when hot, stir in the cooked rice and green onions, tossing and mixing thoroughly until very hot. Sprinkle with soy sauce and mix evenly. Remove from heat and stir in chopped cooked egg. If desired, garnish with additional sliced green onions.

Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 ts fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 small red pepper, cut into 1-inch julienne strips
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
20 egg roll wrappers covered loosely with a damp paper towel to prevent drying
1 shredded chicken breast, cooked

Directions:

In a wok or skillet, stir-fry the ginger and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add scallions, carrots, and red pepper and stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, and sugar. Add the cabbage and broth mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Add sesame oil, cool for at least 15 minutes, and strain. Fold in the minced cooked chicken.

Fill and roll the egg roll wrappers, using 1 tablespoon of filling for each roll. Working with 1 egg roll wrapper at a time, place the wrapper with one corner of the diamond closest to you. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Roll the corner closest to you over the filling. Brush the top corner with water. Fold in the sides of the wonton and continue rolling the egg roll up until it is closed. Press to seal, set aside, and continue with the remaining ingredients.

In a skillet set over moderately high heat, heat the remaining oil and saute the egg rolls until golden brown on all sides, using tongs to turn them. Serve when cool enough to eat, with dipping sauce.

Or. Brush egg rolls lightly with vegetable oil and bake at 425 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup lite soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 to 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.