Posts tagged ‘Italian Cooking’

March 30, 2012

Roasted Hot Peppers & Lemony Ricotta

Assorted Italian Hot Peppers

On a recent work-related trip to Long Island, New York, I was fortunate enough to be taken to an Italian Market. With all the amazing foods around me, my first instinct was to grab a cart and do some serious food shopping, but I was 3 hours from home, and I only had a couple of minutes to look around. These beautiful peppers instantly caught my eye. I couldn’t leave without grabbing up an assortment to take home. I actually stated out loud that I couldn’t leave that day without these peppers! My insane food obsessions are with me at all times. I think I should start traveling with a cooler in the trunk, so I can randomly buy groceries wherever I go. You know, come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea.

I have a close friend whose Italian grandmother lived with her growing up. She was an adorable, non-English speaking, straight off-the-boat from Sicily, grandmother. A few years ago my friend shared her grandmother’s recipe for baked ricotta. Simple and so delicious. She served it with an olive, lemon zest, sun-dried tomato spread. I really do have a dear friend who lived with her little Italian grandmother and who shared a recipe for baked ricotta, but my romanticized memory of her Sicilian grandmother was all wrong, damn it! At this point I don’t think she’s even from Sicily! When I spoke with my friend to confirm the origins of the recipe for this post, she ruined it with the truth… the recipe was from her mother who found it in some magazine years ago. Oh well… regardless, I’m sticking with my memories of what I thought was her grandma’s recipe, and Anne Burrell’s baked ricotta from her book, Cook Like a Rockstar, as inspiration to make this cold ricotta spread to serve with the hot peppers. No baking required here. Lemony, creamy and soothing against the heat of the peppers – this ricotta partners perfectly with the roasted peppers and garlic.

Ready for the oven

INGREDIENTS

  • About 2-2 1/4lbs assorted hot peppers (long hots, small chilies, frying peppers – you choose, just make sure they’re spicy)
  • 2 big heads of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the peppers: for cubanello/frying peppers, remove the core and cut in half or into thirds – like big rings. Cut long hots into 2 inch chunks or thirds, keeping seeds intact. Any small chilies can be left whole. Line a large baking dish with foil and add the peppers and whole peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat and give it a generous sprinkle of coarse salt. Using your hands, toss everything around ensuring it’s completely coated.

Place in the preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue roasting for another 35-40 minutes or until the peppers and garlic cloves are soft and slightly golden on the edges. You want the peppers to slump but still hold together. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit. Put in a serving dish and drizzle with additional olive oil before serving.

To store any remaining peppers, place in a bowl and add olive oil to just cover the top of the peppers. Put in the refrigerator, covered. These will still be delicious for a few days. Serve at room temperature.

Roasted Italian Hot Peppers & Garlic

These peppers are really good with fresh mozzarella on ciabatta, or as I served them here with this lemony ricotta spread on crusty whole wheat baguette.

LEMONY RICOTTA SPREAD

There’s really no science to this combination, so my apologies for not having exact measurements.

  • 1-1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whip it up like you mean it! The olive oil will help the ricotta become a bit fluffy, so just add enough oil until you like the consistency. You should only need about 1 tbsp.

Spread this deliciousness on bread and top with roasted hot peppers and mushed roasted garlic cloves. YUM!

I’m serious…. YUM!

February 26, 2012

Braised Huntsmen-Style Chicken

Braised Huntsmen-Style Chicken

The word cacciatora means “huntsmen-style,” in Italian. According to Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari from the show Parks and Recreation, cacciatore is called “chickie catch.”  Chef Todd English explains the original chicken cacciatore did not have tomatoes, but used only vinegar or wine, resulting in a darker sauce. Bobby Flay adds jalapeño, Emeril uses cremini mushrooms and only chicken thighs, and The Pioneer Woman uses turmeric and egg noodles. I suspect as long as the dish includes some combination of chicken, peppers, mushrooms, garlic and onions, everyone is headed in the right direction.

For me, chicken cacciatore is the perfect hearty dish on a chilly night. I load mine up with lots of colorful bell peppers, diced pancetta and hot cherry peppers. The pancetta adds a deeper, rich flavor, and the hot cherry peppers give it a major kick – we love that heat! It’s fun to peek around on the internet and see the different versions of cacciatore making their appearance online. We really enjoyed this 4plates2table huntsmen-style chicken. Don’t be alarmed by the long list of ingredients. This dish is easy to make and leftovers are super delicious, too.

INGREDIENTS (serves about 6)

  • 3lbs bone-in chicken (combination of breasts and thighs)
  • 1/3lb pancetta, diced (ask the deli to slice 3 – 1/4 inch slices)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced into half moons
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 16oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes, partially drained
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1-2 tbsp jarred hot cherry peppers, chopped (more if you like it hot)
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme, bundled
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • Wondra flour for dusting the chicken

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Dust with Wondra flour or regular flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan (6qt) over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Brown the chicken about 3-4 minutes per side and remove from the pan, set aside. Don’t overcrowd the pan, work in batches if necessary.

Add the diced pancetta to the same pan and sauté until it begins to crisp, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions and peppers and sauté until they begin to soften. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until they release their juices, scraping up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan as you go. Add the garlic, cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the hot cherry peppers, capers, wine and tomatoes. Stir well to combine.

Nestle the chicken pieces back into the pan. Toss in the crisp pancetta, thyme bundle, and chopped oregano. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with grated parmesan on the side.

* This would be delicious served over pasta, polenta or with just a rustic baguette on the side.

%d bloggers like this: