Tonight I used up the last jar of the tomatoes I canned last summer. The timing was just right on this, as 2nds tomatoes have been appearing at the market the last few weeks, and I suspect we’re right on the cusp of a full-on tomato explosion from both the market and our garden. Nonetheless, I felt like the last jar of tomatoes required something special. Actually, that’s not true. I just happened to be making something special in order to use up the rest of Monday’s chicken, but I feel like it was a suitable vehicle for the last jar of tomatoes: Pollo alla Cacciatora.
Chicken Cacciatore is one of the first dishes I remember making as a pre-teen. Of course that time it came from a jar of Chicken Tonight, and the extent of my preparation involved simmering a couple of chicken breasts in the sauce – but that doesn’t change the nostalgia associated with the dish. My culinary skills and ambitions are a bit more refined than they were back then, so tonight’s Cacciatora was of the from-scratch variety.
I marinated chicken pieces (left over from Monday’s Chicken Breasts Niçoise) in red wine and herbs for an hour, then browned the chicken in a heavy-bottomed skillet, removing it to a warmed plate while I made the sauce, comprised of the rest of the marinade, the aforementioned jar of tomatoes, a handful of capers, anchovies, and a few other things I’ve forgotten in my hunger. Once the tomatoes started to break down, I put the chicken back in the pan, covered it with the lid, and popped it in the oven for an hour. The recipe called for 90 minutes, but the internal temperature hit 160 after an hour, so we pulled it early and served it with bread and a salad.
When we sat down to eat, I realized that I’d made essentially the red wine version of Monday’s dinner – a bit heartier and with a longer cook time – but the same idea. Shane agreed, but said that while he liked the Niçoise he liked this version MUCH better. It was also MUCH better than I remember my childhood Chicken Tonight being. I’m now curious to see how this recipe (from Jamie’s Italy) stacks up against the Mario Batali recipe we made this past fall. Good stuff!