The thing about being an untrained home cook...you learn while you go, and every once in awhile you stumble across amazing little gems that you would normally only learn about from years-trained-and-experienced culinary academy faculty. Like, braising, for example. After a few years of making this recipe, I came to the realization that what I was doing was actually a recognized technique that involved searing meat at a high heat and then finishing it off in a covered pot in a deliciously seasoned liquid. I was floored...this recipe came from a social connection, and it taught me a cooking method. One day, I may go back to culinary school. Do you think they have cooking courses suited to a computer engineer? Something that teaches the difference between following a recipe and "cooking"?
I still have the original handwritten source of this recipe - it was sent by mail to me from a cute couple I met near Venice. We met on a train--they were excited to meet an American (imagine that) and practice their English. We exchanged addresses, and eighteen months later I was sending them a small wedding gift. In their thank you note, Chiara jotted down this recipe, something she said her mother's mother served at her rehearsal dinner. I have since learned that this recipe is typical of Northern Italy where white wine is used in the sauce versus a red wine like you'd find in Southern Italy. Pretty cool.
I've converted the measurements and changed it a tiny bit over the years (like dried oregano instead of fresh, canned tomatoes instead of garden, canned chicken broth). But, I have kept some things authentic - like NOT dredging the chicken in flour when searing. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. :)
1 hen, cut into 8 pieces (about 3-4lbs)
2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 box mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c dry white wine (you can substitute chicken broth)
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1/2 c chicken broth
1 t dried oregano
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
Rinse chicken pieces; pat dry. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown the chicken pieces well on both sides. Remove chicken. Add mushrooms, onions and celery to pan drippings. Saute until soft, about 5minutes. Add garlic and cook 2min more. Add chicken back to the pot and add white wine. Cook on medium heat until it has almost completely evaporated. Add in chopped tomatoes, broth and seasonings. Simmer covered for 30minutes. To thicken the sauce, remove the chicken and add a a cornstarch-water mixture. Bring to a boil, cook until reduced. Serve over pasta.
** Here's the link to my personal recipe: http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/63545263/chicken-cacciatore/detail.aspx