I made the most amazing dinner Monday night, if I might say so myself.
Back when I really started cooking, my youngest son (who inscribed the cookbook in the About section) would say to me, “Mom, repeat after me, ‘Yes, I really am a good cook.'” However, I often didn’t, and still don’t now, know what I’m going to cook on any given night — meaning I don’t use recipes and I haven’t necessarily bought things that make sense for one. I usually make up something that I am in the mood for on the subway ride home. I think you have to cook something that you like, something that gets you excited, because that’s part of imparting your love into the dish. Fortunately, my family is usually okay with this.
So on Monday, I had a whole chicken and was tired of making roast chicken. I also had 6 plum tomatoes that needed to be used and was in the mood for a tomato chicken stew over some light pasta. I thought it would be good.
My husband said, “Stew? It’s too hot for stew. I could eat roast chicken again.” Not me. So then I said, “Call it a braise. I have an idea and I think you’ll like it.” (He had seconds. And it was in the 70s and rainy on Monday.)
I started making it, determined to change his mind and make something he would love.
It was fantastic!! Light and packed with flavor and very clean tasting. Actually there is very little oil or fat in this dish. I must say that I also used my Le Creuset Dutch oven to cook this in and I do think that makes a difference. It is such a great pot and no one pays me to say that.
I hope you will give this a go, in whatever pot you have. You will not be disappointed.
FRESH TOMATO CHICKEN BRAISE – serves 4
1 tbs. olive oil
1 whole chicken, washed and thoroughly dried, backbone cut out (save for stock) and cut into 6 – 8 pieces, depending on if you want to cut the breasts in half
Fresh ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
5 – 7 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, scraped and chopped into 1/4” pieces
4 anchovy fillets, drained, patted dry and chopped
2 tbs. water
6 plum tomatoes
4 sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 large sprig of fresh oregano
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lb. thin fettucine
Pecorino Romano cheese for grating – optional
Trim all the fat from the chicken. Wash and dry your pieces thoroughly. Salt and pepper both sides to taste. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a Dutch oven and place in chicken, skin side down. Brown on each side for 5 – 6 minutes, using a metal spatula to turn the chicken over, so you don’t lose the skin. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a deep plate or pie plate, as juices will collect.
Add the onion, garlic, anchovies and carrot to the Dutch oven. Add 2 tbs. water and lower heat to low and cover, to sweat the vegetables and make them sweet. Scape up the bits from the bottom of the pan and stir. After about 5 – 7 minutes, they should have succumbed and become tender and rich.
Add your browned chicken back in and blanket with the chopped plum tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, thyme and oregano. Cover and on low heat, cook for 7 minutes, stir and turn chicken over, cover and cook for another 7 minutes until done. Remove from heat, covered and let sit for 5 – 7 minutes. Temperature on an instant read thermometer should read 155 – 160 degrees.
Meanwhile, cook dried fettucine in salted boiling water 1-2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain and toss with a little olive oil.
Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the sauce. Pass the Pecorino Romano cheese and grater if you like. I did, my husband didn’t.
This dish was so very flavorful and clean tasting – rich and buttery tasting, yet no butter and very little olive oil or chicken fat to speak of – just delicious, full bodied, clean tasting richness. I know that doesn’t make sense – just trust me – this was very good! The fresh tomatoes were ripe and bright, anchovies always add a burst of flavor and the carrot sweetened it all. Not to mention the herbs were just cut from my garden upstate the day before. We are very lucky to have that, I know.
I served this with baby bok choy from Ethel’s garden, sautéed with a little olive oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper. Just delicious!
Whether you make this dish or your own concoction, make it with LOVE and it will taste amazing! Truly!
Now I digress. Very early this morning I had a dream about my youngest son. He was back to being three years old and had a large, terrible wound on his back with a scab, and it was in the shape of a heart! He didn’t mind it, unless you touched it. It was almost as if he didn’t know it was there, he was such a trouper. But I was so concerned for him. I felt so sorry. I wanted to keep sleeping and stay in the dream to make sure he was okay and not in pain. He seemed to know how he got it – some sort of scuffle with another kid – like he knew what he doing and was okay with the wound. Very weird.
Any dream interpreters out there?