Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

By Paul Briand

I like the fact that my local supermarket -- a Shaw's -- has a display of easy recipes right as I walk into the store.

Sometimes, I just don't have my head in the right place beforehand to have figured out the week's menu. These recipes offer instant inspiration, and all-in-all they're very good and each recipe comes with a nutrition summary.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper;
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate;
3. Add onion, pepper and mushrooms to skillet and cook until lightly brown;
4. Stir in garlic and cook about 30 seconds;
5. Add tomatoes, wine and browned chicken (along with any accumulated juices from the plate) and bring to boil;
6. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes;
7. Transfer chicken to serving platter and tent with foil;
8. Simmer sauce, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes;
9. Remove skillet from heat, stir in basil and season with salt and pepper;
10. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

The recipe takes pains to note that browning the chicken is key, on two counts: It puts a crust on the chicken and it creates the fond in the pan that provides the flavor base for the wine and tomato sauce. The recipe recommends this can be served with rice, pasta or polenta.
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