There are just days I crave for Chicken and Tomato Sauce. When I crave for something sour like tomatoes, I would usually prepare my ‘fastfood,’ and that was the Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce I posted earlier. However, if I’d mix Chicken and Tomatoes, I would, in my head, have made ‘Afritadang Manok,’ which as much as possible I’d rather avoid. What I love to do though is mix wine with the chicken and tomato sauce and come up with the classic and very popular Chicken Cacciatora. I, for some reason, just don’t like boiled chicken with tomato sauce as what many Filipinos would do if both were paired. Chicken Cacciatora just doesn’t involve boiling chicken parts in water, tomato sauce, and root vegetables. There’s a little more done along the way to reach its final presentation.
Whenever I do my marketing (groceries), I would buy some chicken thighs and separate the drumsticks for a quick oven roasted chicken dinner. I would keep the other parts in the freezer either for stock or for braising. These parts are perfect for that type or procedure. Given my schedule this summer, time isn’t really a factor to help me finish a braised dish given a shorter period of time at night; even if the days are getting longer this summer. I’d normally fall asleep from exhaustion; waiting for the concoction to get done. That’s usually the case for beef. It had had happened before. I was lucky enough that my roommates were aware and pulled the pot out of the oven. Chicken, on the other hand, is much faster to cook for braising; one of the many reasons I’d buy a few pieces and cook a satisfying meal for under forty minutes. When I find the time, I’d pull those thighs from the freezer and start some nasty braising; Asian inspired or otherwise.
Three to four years ago, I’d buy a whole chicken and do the butchering myself to save money. However, since time has been working against me lately, I’d buy the chicken in parts instead, direct from grocery shelves. I also have more control of what I have in stock in my freezer. Usually, I would thaw the thighs two days prior to cooking and when the appropriate day or evening arrives, I’d fire my stovetop and start braising. It takes time and it really isn’t a quickie. I would almost always do my laundry when I decide to braise; for obvious reasons.
In my previous post, I stated that I would always have a stock of tomato sauce kept in my freezer whenever I’d cook pasta. That leftover sauce would perfectly match this dish. Tomato sauce becomes so much better a day or two after. Since my tomato sauce wouldn’t and don’t usually last for more than four days in the freezer, I’d always make a big, fresh batch all the time. There’s almost always a can of Italian Crushed Tomatoes in my pantry just to answer to this particular craving. Braising is also one way of clearing my fridge from nearly rotten vegetables, but still edible. These ‘rotting’ vegetables are just perfect for long cooking. It melts and eventually disappears in the cooking process or is strained to make a sauce. I also have this habit of avoiding throwing anything from my fridge since I started buying food for myself; not unless mold has started setting-in. I was trained not to throw food growing up, and I have taken that habit at home and even at work (And I finish my plate). Moreover, many restaurateurs are penny pinchers and they wouldn’t allow anything thrown likewise. Cooks would always get the hit if anything that doesn’t pass the owners’ eyes are neglected and thrown into the garbage. Their eyes are that fast on inventory in the walk-in fridge or in the line itself. Scoop and scrape whatever you can is their motto. For them, food thrown in the garbage is money wasted. I feel the same, and I’d only buy what I need for the week. If I had missed an ingredient from the grocery, the convenience store is open late and buying a few wouldn’t really hurt my pocket.
2-3 pcs. Chicken Thighs
1 small White Onion, diced
2 stalks Celery, diced
½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
½ Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Lemon Juice/Lemon Rind
White or Red Wine
1. Wipe and pat-dry the Chicken Thighs and dredge in seasoned flour.
2. Pan-fry on medium-high heat until golden brown and set aside.
3. Turn the stovetop to medium and sauté the onions, celery and the red and green peppers on the same pan until they are soft and tender.
Add some dried herbs (Rosemary) and flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux patiently until the flour turns brownish to gold.
Deglaze the pan with wine and add the chicken stock and tomato sauce followed by bayleaves.
4. Return the thighs back into pot and let it boil to simmer.
5. Shove the pot in the oven for 20 minutes or so or until the chickens are tender.
6. Remove the thighs from the pot and strain the sauce into a sauce pan. Discard the bayleaves. Squeeze some lemon juice and add some finely diced or grated lemon rind.
7. Reduce to half, adjust the seasoning, add some finely chopped oregano, and ladle the sauce on the chicken.
8. Garnish with finely diced Red and Green Bell Peppers, Celery, Onions and fresh Oregano.
I’d always thought that Chicken Cacciatora was a pure Italian dish. However, after looking at my Food Lover’s Companion book, it indicated that it was American-Italian; and so I thought. It connotes to food prepared ‘hunter-style’ whereby various herbs, wine, onions, and tomatoes are combined to create a classic masterpiece. And yes, it was spelled with an ‘a’ at the end; not with an ‘e.’
I adjusted my tomato sauce based on the main ingredients required for the recipe. I added the following before blending: Italian Parsley, Red Bell Pepper, Dried Rosemary, and instead of Red Wine, substituted it with White. If you had noticed, the colour changed to bright orange instead of the familiar red.
If you have more time in your hands, roast or grill the red and green bell peppers and garlic in olive oil before blending. Roasting or grilling accentuates the flavours when they are added into the sauce.
Add a little more tomato sauce, wine or stock when adjusting the seasoning to achieve the desired taste and/or colour. The sauce gets really much better as it reduces further. Be patient when doing the reduction. It will definitely thicken because of the flour added earlier in the cooking process. The taste of the sauce would totally depend on what kind of wine you used, between fresh or ready made stock, as well as the type of Crushed Canned Tomatoes it was mixed into.
- 2-3 pcs. Chicken Thighs
- 1 small White Onion, diced
- 2 stalks Celery, diced
- ½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
- ½ Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- Lemon Juice/Lemon Rind
- Tomato Sauce
- White or Red Wine
- Chicken Stock
- Black Peppercorns
- Bay leaves
- Basil (Optional)
- Wipe and pat-dry the Chicken Thighs and dredge in seasoned flour.
- Pan-fry on medium-high heat until golden brown and set aside.
- Turn the stovetop to medium and sauté the onions, celery and the red and green peppers on the same pan until they are soft and tender.
- Add some dried herbs (Rosemary) and flour and stir to make a roux. Cook the roux patiently until the flour turns brownish to gold.
- Deglaze the pan with wine and add the chicken stock and tomato sauce followed by bayleaves.
- Return the thighs back into pot and let it boil to simmer.
- Shove the pot in the oven for 20 minutes or so or until the chickens are tender.
- Remove the thighs from the pot and strain the sauce into a sauce pan. Discard the bayleaves. Squeeze some lemon juice and add some finely diced or grated lemon rind.
- Reduce to half, adjust the seasoning, add some finely chopped oregano, and ladle the sauce on the chicken.
- Garnish with finely diced Red and Green Bell Peppers, Celery, Onions and fresh Oregano.