What Do You Get When You Cook With a Portuguese Girl Who Loves Italian Food? Chicken Cacciatore with Sweet White Yams!

chicken cacciatore

While Jason and a friend watched movies on Netflix and my sixteen-year-old busied herself in her usual way, texting and taking photos, I sought my own solitude by cooking Chicken Cacciatore in the kitchen.

This dish was absolutely one of our favorites in 2014.  My only regret is that I didn’t make it more.  But hey, better late than never.  I love the colors of fresh green herbs and red bell pepper glistening in the Greek extra virgin olive oil, and their aroma, along with the garlic and Greek Oregano filled the air.  (Jason’s brother-in-law from Greece brought us the oregano and oil.  It is to die for)!

I prepared the Cacciatore in my Le Creuset French Oven – slow cooking it of course; set it on top of the stove and when it was done, family and friends were invited to serve themselves. The chicken was so tender and juicy; no knife was needed.

Ingredients:

6 boneless chicken  breasts, halved crosswise
2 large white yams, halved crosswise then quartered
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celary stock (optional)
8 baby carrots, halved (optional)
3/4 cup dry white wine (or 50/50 water to apple cider vinegar)
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (I had to substitue flat-leaf parsley this time)
1 sprig of thyme

Directions:

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. I do this by using a large vegatable plastic bag from the grocery store. Just add the chicken, salt, pepper and flour and shake!

In a large heavy sauté pan, (again I used the 9 1/2 Ct Le Creuset Oval French Oven) heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and white yams to the same pan and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, include any juice resting in the plate, and turn them to coat in the sauce. Add the sprig of thyme.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Stop.   Wait!  Here is where I change it up.  Because I started cooking in the morning, rather than simmer for 30 minutes as the directions say to do, I turned the oven to 250 degrees and let the stew cook for approximately two hours.

Now, if you need this dish to be ready in 30-40 minutes, just pretend I didn’t say the above and follow accordingly:

Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Rosemary, Garlic, Bay Leaf and Thyme Infused Olive Oil

Grilled Pork Chops with Rosemary, Garlic, Bay Leaf and Thyme Infused Olive Oil

Grilled Pork Chops with Rosemary, Garlic, Bay Leaf and Thyme Infused Olive Oil, This tasty photo taken by Jason Homa

Grilled Pork Chops with Rosemary, Garlic, Bay Leaf and Thyme Infused Olive Oil, Stunning Photo by Jason Homa

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Delicious Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Nothing like the toasty goodness of sweet and salty brussels sprouts, oven roasted and served over barley with shaved grana padana and lemon.  Jason’s been working all day repairing a wall in the kitchen that suffered greatly last rainy season and I’m trapped in the office doing a close reading of The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy.  So a couple of things have been brewing here.  Firstly, our appetites and secondly, the mound of paint brushes, spackle tubs, dust and plastic covering over my spices , silverware and dishes.

To squelch the first tide, I squeezed into the fridge, dug out of the vegetable drawer the first thing I could grab.  Out came my little martian heads (that’s what I call them) and I grabbed a bag of barley from under the plastic (E.T. phone home).  Into my mini rice-cooker from my dorm days at I-House went 1 cup of pearl barley (just enough for the two of us) and 2 cups cold water, turned that on and wriggled my way to the kitchen sink where I washed and trimmed the sprouts.

Using a glass Pyrex roasting dish, I tossed the little heads into the pan with 1/4 cup shaved almonds, 1/8 cup dried cranberries, about 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, Portuguese sea salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, 1 tbsp. brown sugar and half the juice of a juicy Meyer’s lemon.  I’d already pre-heated my oven to 400° F so I just put the pan in the oven and set my timer for 35 minutes.

If you do this just the way I did, scattered and all, your barley should be done around the same time as your brussels sprouts.  From here I just fluffed my barley with 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, served into 2 pasta dishes and set aside.  Taking my sprouts out of the oven, I sprinkled a pinch of sea salt over them and dished them up over the barley.  Topping all of this toasty goodness, I shaved my favorite Italian hard cheese, grana padano, over each dish.

This proved to be the perfect late afternoon, pick-me-up snack for the two of us.  It’s full of nutrients and vitamins and the barley is a great way to keep my tummy from rumbling because it has to work hard to digest.

Jason is the first to admit to my girlfriend Laura, that he is a lucky man to have someone who cooks for him daily.  That being said,  I too must admit, that I am a very lucky woman to have such a handsome and loyal customer to cook for.