Monday, February 2, 2009

57. Chicken Cacciatore with Portabellos and Sage

Date Cooked: January 21, 2009
Page: 345
Rating: B+

This is one of those recipes that have been percolating in the back of my mind for a long time. During the initial weeks of the blog I cam e across this recipe and have been obsessed about making it but for some reason I always had an excuse (not a reason) for putting it off. Well this time I decided to bite the bullet and dive in.

The first step is one of those techniques I always shied away from, browning things in hot oil. I’ve cooked with oil lots of times but when I made my corn fritters back in the early days of this blog I only emphasized why I approach it with caution. Hot oil burns. Anyway once the oil in my dutch oven was nice and hot I put in some chicken thighs, skin side down. The oil immediately began to splatter all over the place. I slapped the splatter screen on top and stepped back. This was going to be a dangerous task. I never thought that I would be risking such bodily harm while cooking. When it was time to flip the chicken I had put on a long sleeve shirt and fetched the longest tongs I could find. I mentally prepared for a quick in and out operation and then dove in. Damn chicken gets slippery, and apparently the oil wasn’t hot enough because the chicken was sticking to the bottom which made the quick extraction more of a negotiation under fire. Once wrestled from the grips of the dutch oven and flipped I stepped back, knowing I had to cook 4 more chicken thighs. When the first batch was done the second batch was added. Now a veteran of this kitchen conflict, the operation went much smoother, and soon I had four beautifully browned chickens.

Now I have a bit of a confession to make at this point. I had to remove the chicken skins as per the recipe. The recipe says to remove and discard. These skins where so crispy and I love crispy chicken. So I discarded them into my stomach, I could bear the thought of wasting such glorious food. I know that I pushed myself several steps closer to a traffic stopping artery clog but mmmm… it was worth it.

With the danger aside I moved on to completing the recipe. The onions and mushrooms were sautéed for a few minutes before being coated in flour. Then the wine was added to help remove all the lovely brown bits at the bottom of the pan. For this recipe I used a 1993 Wolfblass Yellow Label. I like nothing more than cooking with pricey fine red wine. It had nothing to do with there being just enough left for this recipe and that it had already been opened longer than it should have been.

Next up was the broth, some tomatoes, thyme and a parmesan cheese rind. The rind was optional but I was saving one for this recipe specifically. Once the ingredients had some time to introduce their flavors to each other I added the chicken back to the dutch oven and submerged it in the liquid. Into the oven the dish went for 30 minutes. Just before serving the rind was removed and some fresh sage was added.

Rating: B+. I liked this recipe but I had too concerns with it. The wine overpowered the dish. This has nothing to do with the recipe but entirely in the wine selection. Next time I will use a younger, tamer red wine. Also I didn’t cut the chicken thighs myself and this does make a difference. When jointing a chicken myself I tend to be a little OCD with regards to trimming. The store bought thighs had bits of cartilage loose in them and it is a real annoyance to bite into a delicious mouthful of food and have your teeth ground to a halt on a piece of bone or cartilage. Those two things aside I enjoyed this dish… but I may have been mentally hyping it up to a level that I wouldn’t be able to achieve.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree on the skin part!! Crispy skin - why would I throw it away, right? I love the smell of sage.


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