Clearly, I’ve been slacking. But I have a good reason. Two good reasons, actually. The first involved sandy beaches and sunburns and the crystal blue waters of St. Maarten. The second. A puppy. Enough said. How could I possibly not be distracted by all this? But in the end, it’s no excuse to stop cooking.
I made this recipe along with escarole soup and chocolate pudding pie (will post on those soon) for my in-laws. When you love to cook and you’re cooking for people you love, it’s always a little bit nerve wracking. You just want everything to be good. And yet for some crazy reason, I still took the risk of making two recipes I’ve never made before (no pressure!). But I have to admit, these recipes did not disappoint.
The first recipe, Braised Chicken all’Arrabbiata with a simple bulgur pilaf on the side. I mean, seriously, how can that not be good? It was so good. The sauce. Oh, the sauce. I could eat it with a spoon. On rice, on pasta, on bulgur, polenta, fresh baked bread, maybe even brioche… just about anything.
Braised Chicken all’Arrabbiata
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, January 2010 issue
makes 6 servings
5 chicken legs (skin left on) and 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
6 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small poblano pepper, diced, seeds discarded
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine*
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped (juices reserved)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried marjoram
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Coat bottom of a large ovenproof skillet with oil and heat until simmering. Add the chicken skin side down (it will sizzle) and heat over medium high heat, turning only once, until browned (about 7 minutes). Remove chicken and set aside.
Remove the excess fat from the skillet, leaving just enough so the onions won’t stick. Add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent. Add yellow pepper and poblano and cook until softened. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste, cook 1 minute, then add wine and boil 2 minutes more. Scrape up any brown bits as you go. Add chopped tomatoes along with their juices. Then add the vinegar and marjoram. Bring to a simmer.
Once simmering, return chicken to skillet, skin side up. Bake, covered, in the upper third of the oven for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (although it only gets better the longer it cooks – we let ours cook about 40-45 minutes). Taste sauce before serving and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve with anything worthy of sopping up lots of delicious sauce.
*Dry white is really important. I made this recipe again, and the wine was a bit too sweet. It threw off the taste of the sauce (shameful!). It was still delicious, but not as good as the first time around.
Bulgur Pilaf with Parsley and Pignoli
1 cup bulgur
2 handfuls fresh, chopped parsley
1/2 cup pignoli nuts (aka pine nuts), toasted
A squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Make bulgur according to package instructions. While bulgur is cooking, toast pignoli nuts in a small skillet (no oil needed), until they are lightly browned and smell nutty. Set aside.
Transfer cooked bulgur to serving dish and fluff with a fork. Add handfuls of fresh parsley and pignoli nuts. Stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately.
P.S. Have you made brioche yet?
P.P.S. The puppy is officially joining our little fam this Saturday! I’ll make sure to post pictures, I promise.