Sunday, January 22, 2012

Braised Chicken with Cannellini Beans

I've been thinking about making braised rabbit and white beans for some time, but I figured I would try it with chicken first. Rabbit tends to be a bit pricy to experiment with. One might classify this as a poor mans cassoulet. I would call it gourmet peasant food. This is my own recipe, but conceptually it is based on the building blocks of soups and stews. I'm not sure these photos quite do it justice, but I am so pleased with the outcome that I have to share this recipe. I just wish I had made fresh bread to go along with this dish. I will definitely be making this recipe again, but substituting rabbit for the chicken.

(Braised Chicken with Cannellini Beans Recipe Follows)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pollo al Vin Cotto (Chicken in Cooked Wine)

I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, "Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home" by Mario Batali. If you've ever heard me talk about food you probably know that I idolize Mario. Seriously, the guy knows his food and facts. He used to have a cooking show on the Food Network called Molto Mario. Every episode of the show was a cooking lesson and a history lesson from an epicurean perspective. I wholeheartedly subscribe to his philosophy on food and cooking. Buy local, buy organic, buy fresh, and buy/use/substitute seasonal ingredients whenever possible. I think one of the shows principals was to modestly introduce a whole culture of dishes to the American table that the typical American might otherwise shy away from. Once I realized that Italian food could be so much more than Pizza, Pasta, and Spumoni Ice Cream I became really interested in exploring foods not so customary to the American table. There is a romanticism in the way the dishes of Italy are composed, named, and presented. Mario does a good job of preserving the traditional aspects of Italian Cuisine and making it accessible to fervent home cooks, like me. I will credit Mario as at least part of the reason I got interested in cooking. I will go so far as to say that I think Mario Batali is to Italian Cuisine in America as Julia Child was to French Cuisine in America.

Pollo al Vin Cotto is Italian for "chicken in cooked wine". Cooked wine, because the wine is reduced to a sauce and then a glaze. The dish isn't one I would expect to find in the typical American home, but the flavors are not so far fetched as come off as peculiar. This is NOT a week night dinner, I made the mistake of thinking it could be. There is quite a bit of time involved in making this recipe. The original recipe from the book states that reducing the wine should take about 20 minutes. I knew that was way too short. I figured on 45 minutes, but it took about 80 minutes. I could have speed that up by using a wider saute pan instead of a sauce pan, and next time I will. I served this recipe with braised cabbage because as you may remember from my last post I have a wealth of cabbage left over from the Rebollita. I think the pairing was good, but I should have made polenta or orzo to go with it. None the less the chicken was incredible.
Recipes for Pollo al Vin Cotto and Braised Cabbage follow

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Healthy Option 2: Ribollita

I'm back from the farmers market. There are some really beautiful greens growing here in the Bay Area right now. I kinda wish I'd bought some of the little young fennel too, but oh well next week and another post. I came home with a 3 1/2 pound cabbage. It looked amazing, but oh my god this thing is a monster. It is bigger than my own head (before adjusting for inflation). I found this interesting looking traditional Italian soup recipe here called Ribollita. The recipe looked like it would make good use of what I had on hand and my farmers market hoard.

Ribollita literally means "reboiled" in Italian. After eating this soup for a second dinner I can attest that it is even better when reboiled. You can easily make this soup vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock. The soup is traditionally a peasant food that makes use of the left over soup, often minestrone.

(Recipe for Zuppa Ribollita follows)