Chiles and Cacciatora: Cheeky Chicken
|November 2, 2010||Posted by Lindsay under Gluten-Free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, What's for Dinner|
When you are an omnivore, as I am, but determined to eat sustainably and smartly, as I try to be, you end up eating a lot of veggie-heavy dishes with meat relegated to near-garnish status. Tomatoes, artichokes, potatoes, kale — these become the main events.
So this weekend, as a treat, I picked up a whole fryer (3.3 lbs!) and a package of (organic) chicken thighs. I had a whole weekend with P before he left for a weeklong gig in Arizona, and I was sincerely hoping that my food would convince him to return.
When I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit last month, I thought aha! Here is a recipe that both P and I will love. He loves potatoes, I love olives; he loves chicken, I love chili powder (especially this new one, aji amarillo, from the Spice and Tea Exchange). The combination of lime juice and heat sounded divine, plus the salty kick from the olives? Yum.
The flavors worked — the aji was spicier than I had anticipated, so maybe next time I’ll cut it with ancho — but the sauce was a little disappointing. Marlena Spieler’s instructions had me boiling the “remaining sauce” when the chicken emerged from the oven over two burners and “reducing it” to a cup. I’m here to say that if you’re only cooking for two, that step isn’t really necessary. There was barely enough sauce to spoon over. As a result, the olives were just sort of scattered on right before serving. Not what I would’ve thought of for a feature recipe on olives, which is actually what this was.
No, the weekend’s real winner (winner, chicken dinner) was a Mario Batali recipe for pollo alla cacciatora, or “hunter’s-style” chicken. It was probably the longest I’ve spent fiddling with something in the kitchen since my ill-fated pie experiment, but oh my goodness, it was so worth it. The portabellas and pancetta and garlic and wine all simmered together to make this warming, lovely thing that I can’t wait to make again on a Sunday afternoon.
P had three — three! — servings. I think he’ll be back.
Recipe from “Molto Mario” by Mario Batali. Serves 4. (Similar recipe here, with double the chicken.)
- 1 roaster chicken, 3-3 1/2 pounds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 branch fresh rosemary, leaves removed and minced
- Salt and pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen Cabernet Marinara, but feel free to make your own, Martha)
- 4 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (sub bacon if you have to)
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock (cheated)
- Pinch sugar
- Pinch red chili flakes
Cut chicken into 8 pieces. Combine the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and enough olive oil to make a somewhat dry paste. Divide the paste evenly among the 8 pieces and let sit, covered and refrigerated, for 2 hours.
In a Dutch oven, heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat until smoking. Brush the excess rub from the bird and sear each piece of meat on all sides in the hot oil (WARNING: step back, will splatter!). Remove seared meat to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the onions, mushrooms, the pancetta and celery and cook over high heat until onions are golden brown and fat has been rendered from pancetta, about 8 minutes.
Drain the excess oil (NOTE: I did this using a baster), then add the wine and stir the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned bits. Add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, sugar and chili flakes and bring to a boil.
Return the chicken to the pan. Cook for 20 minutes covered, then 15 to 20 minutes more, uncovered. Transfer the chicken and sauce to a festive platter, top with some sauce and serve.
And in case you wanted to try that first recipe, here it is, adapted to serve two. One of the best parts is it sort of builds your side dish, potatoes, into the main event. Also worth noting: this took me more than two hours to finish (BA estimates an hour and 40 minutes). Even if you’re cooking for two, it might be worth doubling the recipe back up again so you have leftovers.
Roasted Chili Citrus Chicken Thighs with Mixed Olives and Potatoes
Original recipe by Marlena Spieler. Serves 2.
- 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges
- 4 large skinless chicken thighs with bones
- 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lime juice, divided
- 1/6 cup fresh orange juice
- 4 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 25 pitted Greek olives (preferably mixed colors and sizes)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook potatoes in large saucepan of lightly salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, place chicken thighs on large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt; drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice and set aside. Whisk 1 tablespoon lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, both paprikas, grated orange peel, ground cumin, dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Rub chili mixture all over chicken. Arrange potato wedges on baking sheet, nestling around chicken. Drizzle olive oil over chicken and potatoes. Bake chicken and potatoes 20 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Turn chicken and potato wedges; spoon juices over. Bake 10 minutes longer. Add chicken broth, 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro, and chopped parsley, stirring to scrape up any chili bits at bottom of baking sheet. Turn chicken over. Bake until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown in spots, about 10 minutes longer.
Carefully transfer chicken and potatoes to platter, keeping potatoes intact. Mix olives into pan juices and spoon over the chicken, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and additional lime juice. Top with remaining chopped cilantro and serve.