Thursday, 17 April 2008
Pollo ala Cacciatora
Ever noticed how food with a foreign name not only sounds more exotic but also seems more appealing? Chicken cooked in tomato sauce hardly holds any appeal. Chicken braised with tomatoes and mushrooms adds a bit more interest. Say Chicken Cacciatore and the whole dish takes on a whole new meaning. But call it Pollo ala Cacciatora and the eyes glass over, violins start to play in the background and you might even have to bring out a nice shirt and tie (or your little black dress for the ladies) for dinner!
I was introduced to this dish many years ago but always made it using the shortcut method. The shortcut involved a bottle of Pasta Sauce. Very quick, very easy and rather tasty.
Looking back, its strange that I used the shortcut method. I have never used bottled Pasta Sauce for my Pasta so I wonder why I decided it was okay for a chicken dish. Not sure I know the answer to my own question. I think it had something to do with someone explaining how they made their version of Chicken Cacciatore that included, of course, a bottle of Pasta Sauce.
Well, I don’t use bottled Pasta Sauce for my Chicken Cacciatore anymore. Uh-Uh. No more. Especially not when making Pollo alla Cacciatora. That would be absolutely disgraceful. No self respecting Pollo would allow itself to be Cacciatora-ed with a bottled Pasta Sauce. Just imaging the cluckings of protest!
Usually I sear my chicken pieces before letting them cook in the sauce but this, since I was a tad lazy, I just chucked the uncooked pieces into the sauce and let it stew for a while. However, I’ll give you my recipe the way its supposed to be made!
1 large chicken – cut into pieces
¼ inch ginger – ground
200 g Swiss Brown Mushrooms – sliced thinly
8 rashers back bacon - chopped
5 cloves garlic - chopped
1 large onion – chopped
1 stalk fresh rosemary
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
3 bay leaves
4 large tomatoes - quartered
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 red chilles or 1 capsicum – cut into pieces
2-3 splashes Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 splashes Tabasco Sauce
Clean and cut the chicken into pieces. Rub all over with the ground ginger. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Heat oil and fry the onions, garlic, basil, bay leaves, oregano and rosemary. Add in bacon and stir well until bacon is cooked. Add in mushrooms and continue cooking till juices are released. Add in fresh tomatoes with stewed tomatoes. Cover pan and allow tomatoes to disintegrate and form a paste.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat a little oil and sear the chicken until lightly browned. Remove from pan and add into the sauce. Add a little water and cover tha pan. Allow simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add in Worcestershire sauceand Tabasco sauce and mix well. Add in chillies/capsicum and simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes until sauce is thick. If need be, add a little corn flour (mix with water first!)
I served this dish with Couscous and also with rice. We found some flavoured couscous at the local supermarket and decided to expose the kids to something new instead of the regular rice.
This kids didn't really take a liking to the couscous but at least they thought the “Tomatoey Chicken with lots of mushrooms” was really nice. See, that’s what’s so special about kids. You cant fool them with fancy names or ‘packaging’ as I like to call it. They tell you honestly whether they like something or not.
Maybe someday when they are all grown up and someone try’s to impress them with Pollo alla Cacciatora at some fancy restaurant, they will eat it and remember that their Daddy used to make them something similar…