Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 6 of mat leave: Chicken Cacciatore... success!

I made chicken cacciatore yesterday with the slow cooker! The result was a super rich, hearty chicken that literally fell off the bones. Finally! I got the falling off the bones affect that everyone's been talking about. However, I followed the recipe from a BOOK and it included more prepping then initially thought.

My day began with the butchering of a whole chicken. I tried hard to remember how my mother usually butchers chickens as I always enjoy chatting her up when she does it at the kitchen counter. Unfortunately, it was more difficult then I remember. I tried my best to hack it out, to "follow the joints"- I got two drum sticks, wings and some breast out of the chicken. The rest, I rinsed and packaged back up into a container in the fridge to hopefully make broth with later once I get more tips from my mom. 

To avoid a bland meal again, I gave the chicken pieces a rub down of salt, pepper and light soy sauce and then shoved that into the fridge for an hour. Oh yes, so instead of using red wine, I substituted red wine from the recipe with "quality soy sauce". I found this tip in a forum, I wish I'd kept the link........... but to recap what the reader was saying- basically, chicken cacciatore is a hunter's meal and it's suppose to be hearty and "earthy"... whatever that means in cuisine talk. The red wine gives it that "earthy" flavor which apparently, soy sauce can do the same. Obviously, if the recipe asks for two thirds cup of red wine, we ain't using two thirds cup of soy sauce, so I just eyeballed it with a tablespoon here and there. 

After the hour was up, I then had to sear the chicken in a pan to get a golden, brown tint on all the pieces, transfer this to the crock pot and then make my sauce. My sauce recipe which instructed the use of red wine and tomatoe paste was modified in my case because, I had no red wine or tomatoe paste. Instead, like I mentioned, I substituted with two tablespoons light soy sauce and two tablespoons dark soy sauce, both premium quality cause our household only has premium soy you know and I used ketchup instead of tomatoe paste. I made this in the pan immediately following the searing of the chicken for a few minutes. The result was a luxurious and thick sauce that I then ladled into the crock pot on top of the chicken. For obvious copyright reasons, I won't be sharing the exact recipe from my slow cooking book but mayhaps you'll find these substitute tips handy when you find a similar recipe online. 

I guess the searing and cooking on the stove part was pretty quick... probably about 15 minutes in total. The chicken butchering part was long but that's probably because I ... don't know what I'm doing !! Prepping the side things like tomatoes, onions and garlic was equally quick so if I'm an expert at butchering chicken or simply bought packaged chicken pieces already butchered, the prep part could be done in 40-45 minutes. Once everything was in the crock pot, I just plugged the cooker in and set it for 5.5 hours. 

Like I said, the result was nice. The dish was very rich, very saucy and the meat came out super tender- 
(I'll try to take a more pleasing shot next time but we were hungry and I just wanted to get it into a bowl and then into my tummy... )

Since I had a feeling the sauce for the chicken would be super rich, I made a blander veggie side dish to compliment, all hail steamed beans :) 

And then here's a bit of a cheat as we bought these home made emperial rolls back from my in-laws place the night before so all in all, it was a good meal. 

Improvements for next time include,
-more tomatoes.
-remember to remove the chicken skin and cut off the fat so that the dish isn't so fatty !!

Today, I will make steamed organic chicken canto style. Hopefully with wood-ear and mushrooms if I can figure out how to do it properly... 

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