Like Kristina, our grandmother on the Italian side of our family inspired my passion for cooking. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting on her kitchen table - that’s right, on it not at it! - slurping up pasta while wearing my “I Love Pasta” bib. A little later in life, Kristina and I spent happy days at Nana’s side helping to make and preserve massive quantities of applesauce from the apple trees; craft fresh spaghetti, fettuccine, and ravioli; and practice chopping, julienning, and sautéing!
Nana taught us early about the importance of eating seasonal vegetables...we learned how to plan meals around what was popping up and ready to pick in the garden. A child of the Great Depression, she was very big on not wasting anything so extra pie crust dough turned into cinnamon strudel and leftover broccoli from dinner became quiche the next morning. As I engage my six and three-year old children in cooking and baking, I have a greater appreciation for how Nana letting us make the messiest messes...she completely respected that it was part of the process of falling in love with cooking. When the flour is flying and every spoon has been used, I try to channel her.
Cooking is my heart song, love language, happy place...whatever you want to call it. When I’m crashing around pulling together a beloved favorite or something experimental, I am at my very best. That’s down to Nana and I’ll forever be grateful to her for passing the baton (rolling pin?).
So many beautiful recipes have been passed down from Turkey Meatball & Escarole Soup to Chicken Rollatini. One of my favorites will always be Chicken Cacciatore. While it’s more of an autumn/winter dish, the weather in Dublin has gone from sunny and warm to chilly and rainy so it felt perfect for this weekend. If you’re craving some cozy, give it a whirl:
6 Chicken Fillets - Butterflied
1 Red Pepper - Julienned
3 Carrots - Peeled & Julienned
3 Celery Stalks - Julienned
4-5 Garlic Cloves - Minced
5 TBSP Capers
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Cups Dry White Wine
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Can Chopped Tomatoes
2 TBSP Oregano
3 Bay Leaves
Salt & Pepper
Use a Dutch oven or large shallow pan with a lid (you can transfer to a crockpot if you wish)
Warm your pan of choice and add olive oil
Dredge the chicken in flour and brown 2-3 minutes per side
Add the garlic, pepper, carrot and celery and sauté for 4-5 minutes
Add the wine and let it reduce
If using a crockpot, transfer ingredients
Add capers, chicken broth, tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves and salt and pepper
If using a Dutch oven, cover and pop in the oven at 175 F for 30-35 minutes.
If using the pan, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
If using a crockpot, cook on high for 45 minute; low for 1 1/2 hours.
Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving. You can serve the chicken in whole chunks or shred into the sauce. I love this services over a whole-wheat pasta or with a side of roasted potatoes.
As Nana said, “Buon Appetito! Mangia!”
I hope you enjoy this family favorite.