Monday, June 9, 2008

Chicken Cacciatore: Feeding a Crowd

This past weekend was my last entertaining hurrah for awhile.  We are getting set to leave the house my family has called home for the past 12 years and settle into different living arrangements:  my twins going off in different directions to pursue life after college, my younger daughter heading to New York city for the next four years while she attends college and my husband and I downsizing from our suburban sprawl to a cozy urban space in downtown Chicago.  I am a bit of a gypsy, counting 12 different cities my home during my lifetime,  so change isn't something I balk at.  This however, isn't merely relocating--it is movement of another kind.  Life movement, letting go of much that has been required of me while I raised my daughters which created some of the boundaries of who I was during the last 25 years.  It is a major transformation, not without excitement and trepidation on all our parts!  As with other changes I have encountered over the years, once I get settled in my new skin, all will be right again.  That doesn't mean the fit is going to be perfect right out of the gate.  Some adjustments will have to be made which is how we grow and become everything we are meant to be--even if we go kicking and screaming!!  Let's hope there is little of that. 

Back to the weekend.  All three of my daughters graduated from their respective schools over the last 3 weeks and we celebrated the last of these, my youngest's high school graduation yesterday.  Family members came in from out of town and I found myself not only getting ready for a party, but runnng a mini-hotel over the weekend to accomodate all our guests.  Wanting to enjoy my company, I did some of my food preparation ahead of time so we could spend more time together.  I have to share the following recipe as it was a hit--easy to make and delicious to boot.  Whether you are cooking for a crowd like I was or just want to make your family happy on a week night, I would give this a try.

Chicken & Sausage Cacciatore
4 servings

3 tbsp olive oil divided
4 large chicken thighs with skin
3/4 lb. mild or hot Italian sausages
3/4 lb large mushrooms, quartered
2 12 oz containers grape tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Heat 2 tbsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.   Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Add chicken and sausage to skillet.  Sauté until brown, 5 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken and sausages to bowl.  Add mushrooms to skillet.  Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes: add to same bowl.  
Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to skillet.  Add tomatoes, red wine, garlic and rosemary.  Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes.  Using potato masher, lightly crush half the tomatoes.  Return chicken to skillet.  reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer uncovered 5 minutes.  Add remaining contents of bowl and simmer uncovered until chicken and sausages are cooked through, turning often, about 15 minutes.  Place chicken and sausages on platter and spoon sauce over.

**To make it more my own, I added sliced red, orange and green peppers to mushrooms and sautéed until they were soft--about 10 minutes.  I also added WAY more wine than it called for because we all like wine at my house.  I also wanted a bit more "sauce" so added a can of diced tomatoes to the final simmer.  Made it a day ahead of time so all the flavors had time to work together and become yummier and served with a big bowl of gnocchi to catch all the sauce.  I think I tripled this for my needs! 

PS:  I really want a green Vespa!!

Photo credit:


The Antiques Diva said...

I'm so happy to have stumbled upon your site! I've spent this morning browsing through your site and though I'm on the other side of being an empty nester, I've found so many similiarities in your life and mine!! When I read this blog, I cracked up as just today I was emailed asking for a tip on what to make for a crowd of guests that wouldn't be time intensive in the kitchen while the guests were there. My recommendation... Chicken Caccitore, although I use the Le Cordon Bleu Italian Cook Book recipe! The sausage in your recipe is a good build!
The Antiques Diva (TM)

Kim said...

I love Italian food (my mom's family is from Sicily) and it is magical when it comes to feeding large groups. I didn't know there was a Le Cordon Bleu Italian cook book. I'll have to check it out.
Glad you found me as well--we have WAY too much in common....