Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dinner at Home, Finally

After spending three days schlepping around the Javits Center for BookExpo, I wanted nothing more tonight than a home-cooked meal. This year's show did entail some good eats, including a wonderful party hosted by the Lee Bros., which featured boiled peanuts, fried chicken and Dogfish Head beer. But it also entailed choking down a squished turkey sandwich in the basement of the convention center as I filed stories on deadline.

So a homemade dinner was definitely on the menu. I decided to make Hunter's-Style Chicken with Rosemary, which sounds much better in Italian: Pollo alla Cacciatora. I'll save my grandfather's legendary version for another post, but this version, from Lidia's Italy, is very, very good. It fit the bill nicely. The ingredient list is brief (chicken, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, plum tomatoes). The procedure couldn't be simpler (brown chicken in olive oil; add garlic, rosemary, hot pepper, crushed tomatoes and water; simmer). And the finished dish was satisfying and delicious.

I made a pot of polenta while the chicken simmered (whisk 1 cup cornmeal with 1 cup water and a dash of salt; stir in 2 cups boiling water; cook over medium heat, stirring, until desired consistency). As Lidia advises (and you know how I trust her), it's nice to spoon the chicken--which, once finished, is falling off the bone--and tomato sauce on top. The polenta soaks up the sauce, everything melds together, and you've got a wonderful meal. Happiness.--S

Hunter’s-Style Chicken with Rosemary

4-lb chicken cut into 8-10 pieces (I used thighs and drumsticks)
1 1/2 t sea salt or kosher salt or to taste
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
2 short branches fresh rosemary with lots of needles
1/2 ts peperoncino flakes or to taste
4 c or a 35 oz can of canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season with salt. Pour olive oil in pan and set over medium high heat. Place chicken skin side down in pan to brown for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn them over and brown another 2 to 3 minutes. Scatter the garlic into the hot fat in between chicken and then drop in rosemary stems and sprinkle peperoncino over.
2. Keep turning chicken until nicely browned all over, 10 minutes or so, then pour in tomatoes slowly. Slosh the tomato can with a cup of water and pour that in too. Sprinkle another 1/2 tsp salt, raise heat, and turn and stir chicken in juices as they come to a boil.
3. Cover pan, leaving slightly ajar. Adjust heat to maintain steady bubbling. Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally and turning chicken. Remove cover and cook another 20 minutes until chicken is tender and cooked through.

Recipe courtesy of Lidia's Italy


A. C. Parker said...

Amen! I, too, was stuck in Javits with some ill-advised chicken pita sandwiches; with turkey on a roll, potato chips, underripe fruit, and overly processed cookies (while listening to Lorrie Moore, who make it worth the culinary sacrifice); with the general grab-what's-there convention attitude that does not satisfy any craving whatsoever. I am a fan of the dish you've posted here, have my own version of it but haven't made it in a long time, so maybe now's the time. Thanks for reminding me. Glad you're back to home cooking.

Anonymous said...

OMG...... sounds so good, am going to try it.