Category Archives: Main Dishes

Lobster Newburg

Lobster NewburgWe have a small football pool in our house.  We pick for winners only.  The winner of the weekly pool gets to pick either a special dinner or a special dessert.  My kids, being rather awesome.  They “saved” their wins and pooled them so they got a special dinner and dessert on the same night.

Now, my kids don’t eat the same, at all.  I never thought in a million years they would agree on anything dinner-wise.  So, imagine my surprise when they did.  Want to guess what they picked?  Lobster.  Yup.  One’s never had it, but wanted to try it.  The other one has had it once.

Lobster.

At the same time, I haven’t really done a historical recipe for a while.   So, the first one that came to mind was Lobster Newburg (or Newberg).  What’s not to love?  Lobster, cream, sherry, some kind of wonderful bread.  Sheer Nirvana.  I could eat a sherry cream sauce everyday.  Love it.

But, the kids didn’t want a “recipe”, they wanted plain lobster with butter.   So, two of the lobsters were steamed “plain” and two were turned into Newburg.  For dessert, they requested a banana split.  Odd pairing, but given it’s ease to make, I’ll take it!!

Lobster Newburg has a fascinating story, depending on which one you believe, if any of them.  The dish originated in the late 1800s in America, believe it or not!   All renditions of the origin story are tied to Delmonico’s, a very famous restaurant in New York City at the time.  One version has a French chef departing Delmonico’s to open an inn in Pennsylvania.  He wanted to serve very continental cuisine and came up with Lobster Newberg to serve at the Hotel Fauchere in Millford, Pennsylvania.

The traditional story is a bit more colorful.  Ben Wenburg was an avid traveler, successful businessman, and reliably regular customer at Delmonico’s.  To boot, he was a favorite diner of Delmonico’s owner, Charles Delmonico.  One version has Ben swooping in and, with great showmanship,  making his new favorite dish over a chafing dish in the middle of the dining room and serving it to Delmonico.  Delmonico loved the dish and added it to the menu, naming it Lobster Wenburg.  Delmonico and Wenburg subsequently had a falling out and the item was removed from the menu.  However, as it’s delicious, there was a great cry to bring it back.  So, the Delmonico transposed the W and the N and renaming Lobster “Newburg”.  Other versions have the Delmonico naming the dish in honor of Wenburg, and Wenburg politely declining to have his name on the menu.  Wenburg then suggests the N and W swap to disguise his name.

No matter what the story, the dish was an amazing success.  When you see how simple this is, you will be amazed. It is an awesome romantic dinner. You know, when the kids are eating their steamed lobsters next to you and everything.  Ah, romance.

Lobster Newburg
Serves 2-3

1 sheet of Puff Pastry, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks, beaten well
3 Cups Cooked Lobster Meat*
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sherry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden.

While the pastry is cooking, turn your attention to the sauce. Ok, you may want to use a double boiler if you are skittish about heating a high fat milk product, but if you promise to use a heavy bottomed pan and cook the cream over medium low heat, you may be fine. I was. I hate using a double boiler, too many pans!  Slowly heat the cream in a larger sauce pan, stirring frequently, but don’t let it boil. When it is moderately hot (like hot chocolate hot), temper the egg yolks (add a tiny bit of the hot cream to the yolks incrementally until the yolks are rather warm), and add the yolks back to the cream. Return the pan to the heat and allow to simmer gently, again with frequent stirring. Add the lobster to the pan and continue to cook until the lobster is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and sherry and stir until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Serve over puff pastry (can also use rice or toast made from great French bread).

Wasn’t that easy?

*You can have your market steam your lobster. You can boil the lobster yourself in a deep kettle of boiling water for 5 minutes for the first pound, and 3 minutes for each additional pound until the lobsters are done. You can steam the lobsters until they are a bright red. However you cook your lobsters, you just need to shell them afterwards. As a Marylander and a voracious crab eater, picking lobsters is a walk in the park compared to crabs. This step should not be a deterrent!!

Dead Lobster Walking So Red!! Puff Pastry

Pulled Pork and Carnitas- Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My husband and I work. We have two kids that like to do stuff. Our weeknight schedules are crazy and I have to tape (how old am I that I still use the word “tape”!!)  DVR The Daily Show and The Colbert Report because the thought of being awake at 11 o’clock is beyond hysterical.  I’m laughing right now, just imagining trying to stay up that late.  I really belong in the central time zone.  If it wasn’t for my DVR, I would not see any shows with a 10 o’clock start time.

More importantly, getting dinner on the table before 7 pm is a herculean effort.  Between arguing about doing homework, arguing about correcting homework, and actually making the meal, the night flies by really fast!  So, any shortcut I can find is greatly appreciated.

I was in a large warehouse store the other day picking up my month supply of paper towels and toilet paper and decided to pick up a Boston Butt, also known as pork shoulder.  At $1.69 a pound, it’s a hard bargain to pass up.  I realize that it’s not pastured or otherwise “green”, but as we eat that way most of the time, once in a while being cheap isn’t awful.  Being a warehouse club, I ended up with 14 pounds of the stuff.  No mean feat to cook this hunk of pork.

Now, I’m pretty reluctant to pull out my slow cooker due to less than optimal results and the fact that my daughter hates anything “saucy”.   I find pot roasts and chicken either turn out “dry” or mushy.   Let’s face it, once you remove “sauce” as an option for a dish made in a slow cooker, you pretty much remove the slow cooker as an option.  Except for this recipe.  You can really cook this pork rather plain in the slow cooker, and the pork stands up pretty well to a long cook time.  I put half the package (about 7 pounds) in the slow cooker.  The first night, we had “pulled pork”- my husband asked that I put the quotation marks, as the pork was not smoked.  Then two nights later, I repurposed the leftovers into carnitas.   Cook one piece of meat in the slow cooker, get two awesome meals on the table before 7 pm!!

I pulled no punches with the meat.  I made it pretty much as you would any piece of pork that you would put in the smoker.   I start with a light glaze of mustard and then heavily season with traditional barbecue spices, but I did add some spices that had been smoked- like smoked paprika.  I would normally leave that out of any seasoning mix to go on the smoker.  Here, to give it a more smokey feel, the meat needs, well, smoke.

For my second night, I placed all the meat on a cookie sheet and baked it in a fairly hot oven to make the meat a little more dry and the end bits a touch crispy.   In a few minutes, I had the perfect pork carnitas meat and I served the carnitas with the traditional toppings.  I can’t stress how easy this made dinner time for the week, especially in a week when my husband was working late most nights!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

5-7 Pound Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder Roast
1/4 cup yellow mustard (enough to cover meat)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dry mustard (love Coleman’s)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup water

Cover the Boston Butt with a thin layer of yellow mustard. In a small bowl, combine all the spices and rub over the pork. Add the onion and the water to the slow cooker. Add the pork. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker and pull apart with a couple of forks. Serve with Cole Slaw and barbecue sauce.  Seriously easy stuff!

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas

Left over pulled pork
1/4 cup olive oil
Onions, cut into strips
Green peppers, cut into strips
Round tortillas, slightly warmed
Avocado, chopped
Salsa
Queso Fresca

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat oil over medium heat in a sauté pan.

While the oil is heating, spread pork in an even layer over a cookie sheet. Place in oven and cook until less moist with some crispy bits, about 15-20 minutes.

Sauté onions and peppers until slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Carnitas

My best Jackson Pollock inspired work!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

When I came home, the house smelled amazing!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

So moist and ready to be pulled!!

Slightly dried and ready to go!

Slightly dried and ready to go!

Beef Shanks

Beef Shanks "osso bucco"

Have you ever walked by something in the store and just thought to yourself:  gotta cook that!!  It happened to me the other day.  Beef shanks.  Just look at them:

Beef Shanks

I couldn’t walk by these babies.  Awesome, meaty, lots of marrow.  If you eat meat, what’s not to love?    I looked at similar veal shanks and comparing $16.99 a pound for veal and $5.99 a pound for beef, well, that’s a no brainer.  Beef it was.  So, it’s not really Osso Buco, but it’s not far off.

My first time having osso buco was at Chiapparelli’s in Little Italy in Baltimore.  My sister had just graduated college and my parents took her out to celebrate.   Chiapparelli’s is a very old world Italian restaurant.  Dark and cozy and dripping with Italian charm. It was an amazing meal from beginning to end, but the osso buco was unforgettable.  When I began to learn how to cook, this was among my wish list items I wanted to learn how to make.

I wanted to be gluten free and lower carb, so I omitted the flour step.  Look, meat browns without flour.  I think this is kind of an antiquated step that everyone does just because it’s always been done.  So, I just salt and peppered these babies and browned them in my dutch oven.  No change difference in flavor.

See, they can brown without flour!

See, they can brown without flour!

 I know, somehow this little bit of flour is supposed to thicken the sauce.  I never find that to be the case.  I always have to add thickener or reduce forever anyway. Frankly, I don’t care if my sauce is thin or thick, I just care how it tastes.  And with this dish, the meat is so moist and tender, the sauce is really a bonus.  

Also, you may notice a distinct lack of gremolata that some recipes add.  First of all, I’m serving a 10 year old and an 8 year old.  I’m pushing it with beef shanks.  I’m not a fan of gremolata.   It’s not cheap, it adds a room temperature taste layer to a warm comforting dish that I just don’t see as necessary.  This dish is packed with flavor.

So, for a greatly reduced price, compared to the veal, I was able to make an amazing dinner that seems so fancy!  Yet, as you will see, so easy!

“Osso Buco” (or, Braised Beef Shanks)

Serves: 4 generously
Total Cook Time: 2 hours

1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper
4 beef shanks, about 3/4 lb-1 lb each
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 small carrot, medium dice
2 ribs of celery, medium dice
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine (I used a zinfandel)
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 can cannellini beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Liberally salt and pepper the shanks. Brown in batches in the dutch oven, about 3 minutes a side. Remove and set aside.

Turn the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Sweat the vegetables until wilted, stirring the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits. Add the tomato paste and rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf to the vegetables. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the red wine, cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours. If you are using enamel cast iron, the lid should be heavy and tight enough to maintain moisture throughout cooking. If not, you may need to check the dish occasionally to make sure you have adequate liquid. 20 minutes before the end of the cook time, add the beans and stir to make sure they are submerged. Check salt and pepper levels prior to serving and adjust as needed.

Recipe Redo: Whole Foods Challenge

Whole Foods Greek Chicken ChallengeMy mom and I have “disagreements” over my shopping at Whole Foods.  She thinks it’s a rip off and the food is overpriced.  I’ve heard the snarky “Whole Paycheck” used as well.   Can Whole Foods be expensive?  You betcha.  If you compare grass fed ground beef made from cows that were raised on a pasture and never saw a feedlot at $8.99 a pound to the stuff in a big box store for $1.99 a pound that may or may not be butchered by illegal workers or comprised of the meat from 100 different cows from “North America”, it may seem expensive.  But you are also comparing a BMW with a Ford Escort.

So, I “re-did” my Greek Chicken and saved my receipts to see what it would cost.   First, some ground rules as to what this “costs”.  I don’t track the cost of spices (unless they are odd and can’t be used elsewhere), fats (butter, olive oil, etc.), onions or garlic.  These items, hopefully, are pantry staples and hard to parse out how much 1/2 tsp would “cost”, so to speak.

I got the leg quarters for $1.49 a pound, for a total of $5.02.  These are “level 2” chicken quarters, which means the chickens they are from aren’t crated or caged (except for transport), no antibiotics or animal byproduct feed, and an “enriched” environment that encourages pecking, perching, etc.  Additionally, the chickens need to have no more than an 8 hour journey to slaughter.

My $5.02 bought a lot of chicken quarters.  There’s no way we can eat this much, so there will be lunch left over at this price.   I used two cans of organic, diced tomatoes at $1.49 each.    Instead of cauliflower, I used lentils.  Well, I had lentils and didn’t remember to pick up the cauliflower.  My bad.   Organic green lentils run about $2.49/pound. I used a cup, which is about 1/2 of the pound (it’s a little less, so I’m over estimating), so $1.20.

Total “ridiculous” Whole Foods cost:  $7.22 and I have two plates leftover for lunch!  Now, for those tsk tsking me for calling my tomato the veg on the dish and not having something green.  I could have gotten a bag of organic broccoli for about $3.00, bringing my total to $10.22.   But I wasn’t feeling the “green” foods on this particular day.  Plus, the lentils were green, that counts, right?  And lentils are a “superfood”.   Fine, next time I’ll add a more substantial veg than tomatoes.  🙂

Greek Chicken

Made this recipe again using Cauliflower as “rice” for a paleo meal.

If doing this with Cauliflower, as shown above, cost is $2.99/head.

 

Smørrebrød- Shrimp

smørrebrød shrimpI have more than a few close friends that don’t eat chicken, beef, pork, etc.  They confine their meat sources to seafood, for health and ethical reasons.   On the other hand, husband is an unabashed carnivore.   So, this blog won’t veer too far from animal meat sources.  However, every once in a while, I will come across an awesome sounding recipe and make a seafood dish as tribute to my wonderful seafood eating friends.  When research items for my smørrebrød post, I came across this pretty amazing version of the Danish open faced sandwich and couldn’t resist giving it a go.

If you are looking for an easy appetizer, or luncheon dish, this is it.  It’s pretty much just assembly.  No real work of any consequence, yet you end up with a very high impact dish.  This is a fairly minimal, clean dish and the flavors work very well together.  While the look is amazing, the taste is not overly complicated.  Some of my taste testers preferred a pinch of salt added to the sandwich, so you may want to consider that as a finishing touch.

This recipe is inspired by a recipe I found on Epicurious.

Shrimp Smørrebrød
Makes 8 Sandwiches

1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 slices rye bread
2 firm-ripe California avocados
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 leaves Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried
1 pound large-jumbo shrimp (16), steamed, peeled, chilled and deveined
Cut Chives
1 1/2 tablespoons drained bottled capers

In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add sour cream and horseradish and whip until stiff. Set aside.

Cut the crust off of the rye bread and make uniform squares or rectangles. Generously butter bread. Set aside on serving plate.

Peel and slice avocados, place in a bowl and toss with lemon juice until thoroughly covered. Set aside.

Place a lettuce leaf on each piece of buttered bread. Layer avocado, shrimp, cream, chives and capers on each sandwich. Serve.

NORTH Festival-Danish Meatballs

NORTH Festival

Frikadeller Smørrebrød

Sponsored Post

I was talking to one of my co-workers the other day about how easy it is for kids to research things online. When I was a kid (GET OFF MY LAWN!! warning), there was no “internet”. If you were assigned a report on the American Revolution, you had to hope that someone didn’t get to the library and check out the one or two books on the American Revolution before you did, otherwise, your “source” information was gleaned from whatever was in the reference section. Need a magazine article? Welcome to the wonderful world of microfiche and scrolling through months of other articles to get to yours. Now? Google it. Who needs patience in the age of information? I can probably get a George Washington Hologram to tell me about the American Revolution now.

This is my first sponsored post. For my first such post, I am tasked with writing about the food from the great country of Denmark. Upon learning of my assignment three food items popped into my head: the danish, Danish butter cookies, and pickled herring. I was really hoping that my first impressions could be greatly expanded to other foodstuffs. Luckily, I was right.  Thanks to the internet, I was not only able to learn that the Danes have an app for their food (for real!), but I could get access to some really great, traditional recipes.  Recipes that I probably couldn’t have found in my local library all those years ago. Lucky me!

Danish food is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, as a Danish restaurant, Noma, holds the distinction of being the best restaurant in the world. Also, Aamanns-Copenhagen, a very Danish restaurant, has opened in New York City to great fanfare. I was completely smitten by Adam Aamann when, during an interview with honestcooking.com (http://honestcooking.com/adam-aamann-and-the-reinvention-of-danish-smorrebrod/), he hit on something that I find so deeply ironic about food nowadays:

[Aamann] laughs briefly at the word “modern”, an adjective loosely used by food writers to describe anything that stands out. “It’s quite funny”, he says. “Nowadays modern means making your food from scratch; you would think it would be the other way around”.

Yes, yes you would. Aamann resuscitated the Danish standby of smørrebrød.  Smørrebrød is an open faced sandwich that you eat with a knife and fork.  Traditionally, the base is a hearty Danish rye bread and the toppings vary from cured meats, pickled fish to leftover frikadeller, or Danish meatballs.  There’s no mayonnaise on the bread, just butter.  This was definitely going to be an adventure if I’m going to do the smørrebrød.  My kids have eaten traditional French breads like Challah and brioche, but rye would be a new experience.   I realized I had a really hard sell ahead because my daughter was heartbroken to learn that the dark brown rye wasn’t really chocolate flavored.

So, I figured the easiest path would be frikadeller, a Danish meatball.  More specifically, the national dish of Denmark.   My kids LOVE meatballs.  We could have traditional Danish frikadeller for dinner with red cabbage and then used the leftovers for a smørrebrød lunch.  I’d cover traditional and new!

The meatballs were light and extremely easy to make.  They were also very traditional.    My kids LOVED them.  The adults were sort of non-plussed.  They were fine meatballs, but nothing spectacularly different.  Honestly, it’s what I loved about them.  No odd flavors.  Unpretentious presentation and great texture.  Simple, honest, clean food.  Not overly fussy and very approachable.

The red cabbage was so easy to make.  I LOVE the red cabbage sides when I go to German restaurants.  I had no idea they were so simple to make.  I am thrilled to learn how to make this dish, officially called rødkål.  It’s beautiful and remarkably good for the trace amount of effort required.  It’s also traditionally served at Christmas time and it’s so easy to see why.  The color is amazingly festive! This dish will be on my to do list for Christmas!

Repurposing the frikadeller into smørrebrød the next day was ridiculously easy, and yet really good.  Subbing the butter for the mayo made for a lighter, less gloppy lunch.  It was almost cleaner, if that makes sense.  And you can’t put an American amount of butter on the bread. You know, a bare scraping of butter.   No, you need to put a layer thick enough on there so that when you bite through it, you can see teeth marks.  My kind of butter layer!!  Add the leftover frikadeller, rødkål, and dill pickles, and you have some amazing smørrebrød.

Rødkål (Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage)
Recipe inspired by: Scandinavian Today Blogspot (http://scandinavtoday.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-to-make-danish-red-cabbage-rdkaal.html)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours

1 head of red cabbage
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon red currant jelly

Remove tough outer leaves and white core of the cabbage. Slice the remaining cabbage into thin strips.

In a preheated saute pan, place the cabbage, vinegar, water, salt, sugar and pepper over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until tender for about 2 hours. Before serving, stir in the red currant jelly.

Frikadeller (Danish Meatballs)
Recipe inspired by allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/frikadeller-danish-meatballs/)
Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 40 minutes (mostly chilling before cooking)
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 medium onion, grated
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup seltzer water
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter
Brown gravy (optional)

Mix together the onion, pork and veal until well combined. Forget all of the admonishments about overworking the meat for similar dishes. Stir the milk, eggs, bread crumbs, and flour into the meat mixture until well incorporated. Stir in the seltzer water, allspice and salt and pepper. Mix should be moist and more wet than a traditional meatloaf, but it should not be so overly wet as to lack consistency. Additional breadcrumbs or flour may be called for if the mixture is too wet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed skillet. Using a large spoon, pull oval shaped meatballs out of the mixture and fry in the butter, turning when well browned. Do not crowd the pan, or the meatballs won’t develop a nice brown crust.   Remove meatballs when cooked through and set aside.

For the optional gravy:  add 1/4 cup chopped onion to the leftover butter remains in the pan.  Sauté until translucent.  Add a tablespoon (or so) of flour and brown. When the flour reaches a nice color for gravy, add beef or chicken stock slowly, while whisking, until you get the gravy consistency you want.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Grating an onion

The kids and I did this in rotations. The tears were flowing mightily!!

frikadeller frikadeller frikadeller rodkaal

Not color enhanced!

Not color enhanced!

Frikadeller and Rodkaal

Lagniappe

As an aside,  I received some wonderful Danish cheese from the sponsors of this post and the North Festival, Unika by Castello.   I am under no obligation to mention this in my sponsored post.  However, the cheese was amazing and why shouldn’t I say so?  From the literature that came with the cheese, it’s no entirely clear that normal folks can get this cheese at their local cheesemonger.  But, if you happen to see it, grab it.  The two types of cheeses I received were Gnalling and Krondild.  The Gnalling, a slightly harder cheese with an orange-tinged rind was very popular, especially among the kids.  It’s smooth and rich with a slight bite.  The Krondild was a really interesting, dill studded cheese.   Dill pickles are among my most favorite things in the world.  LOVE them.  This cheese combines a rich, creamy cheese with the lovely taste of dill.  Amazing with charcuterie.

Swag cheese

Learn more about Nordic cuisine at the NORTH Festival 2013 in New York City. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and NORTH Festival 2013. 

Chicken Cacciatore

Lovely Italian Chicken and Tomato Dish

I was watching a BBC Program called “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” the other day.  As the new owner of such a dog, I was really interested in the subject matter.  The general gist is that line breeding and breeding for looks over purpose has substantial downsides.   Namely, some dog breeds are grossly exaggerated from their origins and/or riddled with significant health problems.  This particular show by the BBC inspired Crufts to implement vet checks on all the breed winners.  If the winners couldn’t pass the vet checks, they were unable to compete in the finals.   Many dogs were eliminated from this prestigious show, causing quite a stir in the dog world.

How does this show relate to my food blog?  As I’m watching this show as they compare what dogs used to look like versus what they look like now (and it’s not a favorable comparison), I feel some food has become about the same way.   Overly complicated and fussy, and not necessarily better.

Take this recipe for Chicken alla Cacciatore from The Italian Cookbook by Maria Gentile (1919):

Chop one large onion and keep it for more than half an hour in cold water, then dry it and brown it aside. Cut up a chicken, sprinkle the pieces with flour, salt and pepper and saute in the fat which remains in the frying pan. When the chicken is brown add one pint fresh or canned tomatoes and half a dozen sweet green peppers and put back the onion.  When the gravy is thick enough add hot water to prevent the burning of the vegetables. Cover the pan tightly and simmer until the chicken is very tender. This is an excellent way to cook tough chickens. Fowls which have been boiled may be cooked in this way, but of course young and tender chickens will have the finer flavor.

Let’s compare this relatively easy recipe with one from the Food Network’s Tyler Florence:

Ingredients
6 red bell peppers
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 egg
2 cups milk
1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
6 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
1 onion, sliced thin
2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 lemon, sliced in paper-thin circles
3 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 bunch fresh basil, hand-torn (1/4 bunch to flavor the base, 1/4 bunch to finish the dish)
1 cup dry white wine

Directions

Start by preparing the peppers because they will take the longest. Preheat the broiler. Pull out the cores of the red peppers; then halve them lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds. Toss the peppers with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them on a cookie sheet, skin side up, and broil for 10 minutes, until really charred and blistered. Put the peppers into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and steam for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins. Peel the peppers and roughly chop into chunks; set aside.

Season the flour with the garlic powder, dried oregano, and a fair amount of salt and pepper. Whisk the egg and milk together in a shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and tap off the excess. Dip each piece in the egg wash to coat and then dredge with the flour again. Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in about 1/4-inch of oil. Pan-fry the chicken in batches, skin side down, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side about 10 minutes longer. Remove the chicken to a side plate, pour out the oil, and clean out the pot.

Put the pot back on the stove and coat with 1/4 cup of oil. Add the garlic, onion, tomatoes, lemon slices, anchovies, capers, red pepper flakes, half the roasted red peppers, and half the basil. Season with salt and pepper. This part of the recipe is going to be your base. What we are looking for is a fragrant vegetable pulp, so simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often, until everything breaks down.

Add the remaining roasted peppers and the remaining basil. Tuck the chicken into the stewed peppers and pour in the wine. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

End.

Wow, right? In the summer, I would have no trouble coming up with the ingredients for Mrs. Gentile’s recipe. For Mr. Florence’s? Lemon, capers, white wine and anchovies aren’t something I keep around. Not only is the Florence recipe infinitely more complicated, but much more expensive. No wonder people don’t cook anymore. Honestly, you’d think you needed these things to make what was known as hunter’s chicken. You see hunters pulling out capers? Lemons? Doubtful.

So, I modernized the format of the former recipe and it was really good and so easy to pull together.  It’s a one pot meal without a lot of mess. My husband adored it.    Summer’s bounty used to its greatest advantage.

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60-90 minutes

Oil (bacon drippings, lard, vegetable)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6 chicken thighs, patted dry (you can add more, I just couldn’t fit more in my pot)
2 large green peppers, large dice
1 large onion, large dice
10 mushrooms, sliced (an 8 ounce container)
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
15 ounce can of diced tomatoes (may use fresh tomatoes as well, about 2 cups diced)
1/2 cup of water, white wine or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a dutch oven large enough to fit chicken comfortably. I used a 5 quart oval one.

As the oil is heating, combine flour, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl or plate. Dredge chicken thighs through the flour mixture. When the oil is ready (it will appear to be rippling), place the chicken skin side down in the dutch oven, careful not to crowd. You may need to cook the chicken in batches. Cook the chicken until each side is browned. Remove and set aside. Add peppers, onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook until soft. Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, oregano and bay leaf. Saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and water and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. You may need to adjust the seasoning more at this point. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and continue cooking in the oven until the chicken is tender, about 45-60 minutes. You can’t really overcook the chicken too badly at this point.

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