0616 Pollo alla Cacciatora

Last of the Harvest

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.

Pollo alla Cacciatora

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.

Pollo alla Cacciatora

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!

Recipe:
Pollo alla Cacciatora from Jamie’s Italy

Good Eats

Whew, where did the fall go?  I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is a week from today, and Christmas not far behind.  After a blur of visitors last month, things have quieted down a bit, except that now I’m working 2 part time jobs that eat into my days, nights, and weekends.  We haven’t managed to do much of anything except work, eat good food, knit (me), work out in the basement (Shane), take naps (me), brew beer (Shane), and watch a lot of Fringe for the last two weeks.

But hoo-boy, we have been eating well.  I love fall food as it transitions from the wonderful fresh stuff from the summer into the heartier meals for long, cold winter nights.  I’ve been making our friendly butcher at Plum Market work for his money, asking lots of questions about the provenance of the meats (Niman Ranch and Bell and Evans farms – not local but quite reputable) and having things prepped for me to save time at home.  Hey, it’s what they’re there for, right?  We’d like to transition to buying more local meats, but in the interim, it’s really great to have knowledgeable and helpful butchers about .5 miles from our house!

A sample menu from this week:
Sunday: Balsamic Pork with Shallots, served with Al Dente mushroom fettuccine ($2 at work!)
Monday: Pollo alla Cacciatora
Tuesday: leftovers of the above, served with polenta and Zingerman’s parmesan pepper bread
Wednesday: Pasta e Fagioli soup, served with Zingerman’s parmesan pepper bread
Thursday: family-style dinner at SELMA – we’re bringing an apple cake and Shane’s hard cider
Friday: By the end of the week, I usually want to fall over, and we’ve usually run down the fridge and need to go grocery shopping, so we tend to go out and/or get food from the Plum Market salad/hot bar
Saturday: Braised Chicken Legs with Cider, Apples and Mustard

And in case you’re wondering, we’re sticking to a grocery budget of $100 or less per week, including alcohol.  I’d like for it to be even less, but since we’re spending next to nothing on going out and/or entertainment expenses, this budget seems just fine.