Always on the quest for another creative way to sneak chicken into my family's diet, I wondered how I'd survived motherhood thus far without ever having made chicken cacciatore, and as an Italian, no less. Yet here I was again—confronted with chicken and less than an hour to prepare it. That meant no time to mince garlic, chop onions and slice peppers or even sauté them. Then I remembered how Mexican-style tomato sauces are made: Garlic, onion and peppers go into the blender with canned tomatoes, then the whole mess gets simmered together. The result isn't as complex as with multi-layered cooking but delicious none the less. Here's how simple it was:
active: 20 min; total: 1 hr 5 min
1 small onion, quartered
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 red bell pepper
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
5 chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 rosemary sprig
Buttered noodles or crusty bread for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a blender, combine the onion, garlic, bell pepper, canned tomatoes and chicken broth and puree until smooth.
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour. In a large, deep ovenproof skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat until brown and crusty all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the sauce to the pan and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom. Add the bay and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Transfer to the oven and roast uncovered until the chicken is tender and the sauce is reduced by about half, 45 minutes.
3. Discard the bay and rosemary and serve with noodles or crusty bread.