1Italian cooking in the 60s and 70s in the United States was characterized by large portions of pasta and some meat or fowl swimming in a pool of tomato sauce. You then added a great deal of Kraft’s grated Parmesan cheese on the mixture and you were off to the races.
Much has changed in recent years as the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have manifested themselves.
With the exception of penne all’ arrabbiata, I am a leery of Italian food with too much tomato sauce. As such, I was intrigued with this colorful recipe from Food & Wine (May, 2014) which allegedly features the “best Italian dishes from Tuscany to America.” I have no way of knowing if “Roast Chicken Cacciatore with Red Wine Butter” comes from Tuscany or not, but this is a delicious recipe. While the “wine butter” is intriguing, the jarred Peppadew peppers make all the difference. Bravo, Food and Wine!
Roast Chicken Cacciatore with Red Wine Butter
- 1 3 1/2-pound chicken
- Kosher salt
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter softened
- 4 basil sprigs plus leaves for garnish
- 4 oregano sprigs
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 small fennel bulb cut into 3/4-inch wedges through the core
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 3/4 cup pearl onions
- 8 jarred sweet Peppadew peppers halved
- 6 baby bell peppers halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives pitted and chopped
- Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of salt and stuff the thyme sprigs in the cavity. Transfer the chicken to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and poke holes in the top; refrigerate overnight.
- In a saucepan, boil the wine over moderately high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, 7 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the tomato paste, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Loosen the breast and thigh skin of the chicken and spread three-fourths of the red wine butter under the skin. Stuff the basil sprigs, oregano sprigs and garlic into the cavity and tie the legs with string. Rub the remaining butter over the chicken and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep ovenproof skillet, toss the fennel, tomatoes, onions, both peppers and olive oil; season with salt. Set the chicken in the center of the vegetables. Pour in the stock. Roast for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 155°. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Simmer the broth over moderately high heat until slightly reduced, 3 minutes. Stir in the olives and transfer to a platter. Carve the chicken and arrange on the platter. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.