After 92 years my father’s gallbladder gave him problems so about a week ago he had it removed. The nurses said in the recovery room after the operation they haven’t seen 45 year old patients recover as quickly as he did. Has to be good genes. But after a week in the hospital and a few days at a rehabilitation center, institutional food started getting really old for my dad. I made enough of this chicken cacciatore to bring some over to him this weekend. When I told him what I had I thought he was going to click his heels right then and there. I set up his table and opened up the container. A smile came over his face that was worth a million bucks. Food will do that to you, especially good old home made food after a week and a half of hospital food. “These bastards don’t cook the vegetables”, my father said. “Every thing is hard”. I guess he never got the memo about steamed vegetables are supposed to be better for you. My mother does the same thing when I take her out to eat. After she orders the entree she tells the waiter to please have them cook the vegetables because she doesn’t eat them raw. I guess 92 years of eating well cooked vegetables didn’t hurt my mom or dad!
Bringing something from home always makes you feel better when you’re stuck in a hospital. Believe me, my father wanted to go home a few days before yesterday. And evertime I visited him the first thing he would ask me is if I was bringing him home today. Well, I brought him the next best thing.
I could remember when I was a child Iwas in the hospital with pneumonia. One afternoon my mother walked into the room with a brown paper bag filled with delicious deli hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut. I still remember the feeling when I bit into those dogs and was transported out of the hospital for that brief moment.
In my house growing up, chicken cacciatore is as close to Italian comfort food as you can get. My mother would make chicken cacciatore the traditional way in a large pot and cook it till the chicken almost fell off the bone. It was delicious. She would add mushrooms and ripe black olives to the dish. I adapted her recipe and baked the cacciatore in the oven. Because of baking it I added potatoes and turned this into a one pan meal. Just add a salad. The Italian bread is a must to mob up the delicious sauce. I enjoy dark meat chicken so I make this with the legs and thighs. But you can use any cut of chicken you prefer.
- 1 frying chicken cut into serving pieces
- 1 large onion sliced into 1/8″ pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 medium peeled potatoes sliced in 1/8’s
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and core removed, cut into strips
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 cup white wine
- one 28 oz can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 5 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375
In a large roasting pan place peeled potatoes. Sprinkle chopped garlic over the potatoes and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Place chicken skin side down over the potatoes.
Add onions, peppers in between the chicken, basil and tomatoes, crushing them with your hands over the chicken. Sprinkle on the red pepper flakes. Add the juice from the tomatoes and the white wine and spread around the chicken. Sprinkle on the red wine vinegar. Add a good helping of salt and pepper to taste.
Add oregano by crushing it between your palms over the chicken. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil over the top. Shake the pan so everything settles.
Bake in oven for 1 hour.
Turn the chicken skin side up and raise the temperature to 475 degrees and bake another 30 minutes or until chicken is golden and potatoes are cooked. Allow the dish to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with a tossed salad and Italian bread.