A bunch of food bloggers have been posting lately about why they cook.
I hardly ever blog about food, except maybe to document tales of rib terror, or how I smoked my family out of the house, but most of you reading this know I love to cook.
After a day of thinking, screaming tantrums and time-outs, or even just doing laundry (I HATE LAUNDRY), nothing feels better than mincing, chopping and sauteing.
There’s a rhythm to cooking. One of my favorite rituals is to smash, peel and dissect a clove of garlic. The pungent smell, even the way the flecks stick to my chef’s knife blade. I don’t even mind when I catch a telltale whiff from my fingers later as I am shoving my glasses back onto my nose.
I love separating chopped vegetables into pretty little mismatched bowls. I’m making order out of something. No matter how messy everything else in my life is, I have control of this space.
But I think the most satisfying part might be the end, when I’ve been stirring and searing, mashing and whisking for hours, and somehow, magically, it all ends up on a plate together.
And it makes me, and usually Ed, happy.
This weekend, it was the ultimate comfort food — chicken cacciatore served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and a salad with prosciutto, pine nuts, Parmesan and a zippy vinaigrette.
It was just what the doctor ordered.
Though I didn’t take a picture (I’d make a horrible food blogger), here’s the recipe.
Chicken Cacciatore, adapted from Bon Appetit
- 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (scant 4 cups)
- 1 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
- 1 very large red onion, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 4 1/2- to 4 3/4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, excess fat trimmed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced basil, divided
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine plum tomatoes, mushrooms, and onion in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil and vinegar; toss to blend. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread vegetable mixture in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until onion slices are golden brown and all vegetables are tender, stirring frequently, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon rosemary. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until golden brown, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to bowl. Add garlic to pan, saute 30 seconds. Add wine to skillet and boil until wine is reduced by half, scraping up browned bits, about 1 minute. Stir in canned tomatoes with juice, then broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Return chicken to sauce in skillet. Place skillet in oven and roast uncovered until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes. Remove skillet from oven. Stir in roasted vegetables, remaining 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, half of basil, and half of capers. Simmer over medium heat until vegetables are heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve over mashed potatoes, and for God’s sake roast some garlic and throw it in them. And use half and half or whole milk and real butter — not skim milk or any of that chicken broth stuff. Blech. This is comfort food after all.
Salad is delicious, but optional.