Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

Start with Gardein's frozen chicken scallopini to prepare this cacciatore-style dish. Ignoring the fact that cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian, in culinary terms it refers to a preparation of tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, herbs, and red wine - the simple pleasures of Italian flavors, in other words. I used quick shortcuts like frozen cut veggies tonight, but you could use fresh if you prefer.

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 Gardein chicken pieces
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups frozen pepper stir-fry (such as Whole Foods southwestern blend)
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup vegan dry red wine
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) drained cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
1. Combine the flour, salt, thyme, fennel, and black pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Defrost the chicken in the fridge or microwave just slightly, and add to the bag; seal and shake to coat.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes, turning over halfway through.  Add the frozen pepper stir-fry, frozen onions, red wine, tomatoes, and bay leaf.  Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

3. Uncover and cook a final 3 minutes, until the mixture is somewhat thick. Discard the bay leaf.

For the best flavor, serve over a long thin pasta (I used angel hair, but spaghetti, linguine, or any other long noodle would work). Then just add a garden salad and fresh Italian bread on the side to round out the meal.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 and 1/4 cups), Calories 223 

Tasting Notes:
My favorite part of this dish by far - and unexpectedly - was the strong licorice notes from the fennel seeds. A delicious surprise, that makes the rest of the dish much better. The rest, unfortunately, was a little bland, tasting like it's various components without being transformed in any way. I would use Gardein's Tuscan chicken breasts next time, which are 'meatier' and would stand up to the heavy sauce better than the scallopini did. I also might play around with a white wine version, because the red wine tinted the chicken a rather unappealing purple.


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