I love cookbooks and recipes. But . . . the problem for many is that they are too precise. You don’t want to set up a science lab every evening as you’re getting ready to make a meal. For me that means I open the refrigerator and then close it, unmotivated to go the distance. What’s great about becoming an experienced home cook is that you get a feel for cooking. So once I have the parameters of the cooking technique and ingredients, I can put away the recipe(s) and work intuitively over the stove and cutting up vegetables. Here’s what I did yesterday to make chicken cacciatore:
Cut up some onion, peppers, mushrooms, garlic. Opened a can of tomatoes and heated up frozen chicken stock. Went out to the garden and cut some oregano and rosemary. Threw in some pitted olives because… why not?
Chicken thighs on the bone (3). Wiped dry and set on counter to come to room temp. Season w/ S&P
Onion, 1-1/2, sliced thin
Peppers — red is best IMO. I had mini peppers so that’s what I used. Washed and sliced after removing core and seeds
Chicken stock — heated up frozen stock
Mushrooms, 4 cremini, sliced
Red pepper flakes
Fresh oregano and rosemary, chopped
Celery, 1 stalk, sliced (because I had a nice bunch of organic)
Heat dutch oven, add 2 T olive oil with bit of grapeseed oil. (Grapeseed is a higher heat oil, raising available temp of olive oil by itself)
Put chicken in pot skin side down over medium heat, which should sizzle when you put in. Cook about 4-5 minutes until browned, and flip over and cook on other side. Remove from pan and spoon out and remove oil to leave 2 T oil. Turn off heat and add onions, and season and cook, stirring occasionally for at least 5 minutes. Higher heat to sauté, not just sweat. Add peppers for a couple minutes. Then add mushrooms, hot pepper flakes, and garlic at end. Season again w/ S&P.
Cook until everything is wilted. Add chicken stock and cook a bit. Add in torn up tomatoes and fresh herbs. Put chicken back in, nestling into liquid. Don’t put in so much liquid that chicken is swimming in sauce — vegetables will release juices creating more as it cooks.
Cover and simmer on low for 35-40 minutes.
Serve over buttered noodles or soft polenta.