I went to the liquor store the other day to buy some wine. I was looking for wine to cook with. The selections throughout the isles were endless. I’m not a wine expert but I know what I like. Something smooth, not too sweet and not too dry, preferably red. Then I saw my old standby, CR Cellars Fortissimo wine. It’s a hearty red table wine that is the closest you can get to home-made wine. And you can get a 4L jug for under $20.
I served Fortissimo to my cousins one summer and they loved it. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that is was a $19 gallon of wine. When I did they had to know the name. I hear it’s hard to get in some parts of the country but I always see it for sale at my local liquor store.
My grandfather had his favorite wine. He used to buy Gallo, and sometimes Carlo Rossi. He would come home with a case of four gallons and store it in the closet in his hallway. He would fill his carafe and keep it within reach in the kitchen.
This dish is flavored with red wine. Usually when you cook chicken with wine it’s white. But this is a very hardy dish and you need the red wine to compete with the other flavors that are going on. I guarantee these flavors will burst in your mouth.
This is a true Sicilian Hunter style chicken, a cacciatore if you will. It’s a one dish meal, with meat, potatoes and vegetables. This dish is best served at room temperature so all the flavors mellow. The chicken absorbs the tang of the vinegar and the brine of the capers and olives. Have plenty of fresh Italian bread on hand for this one.
One 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 small eggplant, cubed
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pitted green olives, Sicilian, quartered
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- Hot pepper flakes
Prep the potatoes, eggplant, carrots and peppers. Place the chopped garlic, mint, olives, capers and celery in another bowl and put aside.
Wash and pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken and sauté until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Add the wine. Turn the chicken pieces. Simmer, partially covered for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.
Meanwhile, sauté the potatoes, eggplants, red peppers, and carrots, in separate pans with 1/2 cup of olive oil in each, until tender, stirring often. Season each with salt. The potatoes should be golden brown. Fry the eggplant in batches so they turn a golden brown. As each vegetable is done place in a large bowl until you are ready to combine everything.
Put the vegetables in a large pan with the olives, celery, capers, mint, and garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the chicken. Combine well. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring gently.
Transfer to serving dish. Bring to room temperature before serving.