Groceries are getting expensive again. Lately I notice, Safeway does not offer the cheap deals on chicken they used to run almost every weekend, whole chickens as low as 79 cents a pound, skinless/boneless breasts and thighs as little as $1.99 a pound. You could get a nice chicken for as little as $5, or a pack of 6 – 8 breast halves for $6-7, thighs even cheaper. I used to watch for these sales and stock my freezer, but now, I buy as I need it, hoping something will give and prices will at least stop going up.
In the meantime, I try to use recipes that make the most of whatever I can get. When I saw a big pack of chicken wings, which are usually hard to get and pricey, for about $9, I snatched it up. I like wings, fried, stewed, bbq’d, sweet and sour, it’s all good. I been craving a nice pot of chicken cacciatore.
“Cacciatore” comes from the word for “hunter,” which is appropriate, because this is a dish that would cook real nice in a dutch oven over an open fire, with any kind of game bird you can get. I don’t know if rice figures into the original recipe, but it’s perfect because it soaks up all the juices and makes this a stewy, stick to your ribs kind of meal, mop up the last drop.
I got this recipe off a box of quick rice, but I use cooked brown rice instead, works just as good. I wash my brown rice, as suggested by a rice farmer on Ch. 12 news one time – I put a cup of brown rice in a pot and cover it with water, swish it around, then use my hand as a little dam to pour off the dirty water. I repeat this until the water looks clear, then I pour it off into a wire collander and let it drain for about 10 mines. Then I pour it onto a paper towel and spread it out. Within 20 minutes it will be dry enough to pour into a pot of 2 cups boiling water. I add about a quarter tsp of salt and simmer this with a tight lid for 25-30 minutes. I find rice is done when little steam holes have formed in the top of the rice but there’s no water bubbling up. Turn it off, leave it covered, and let it sit until you’re ready to use it. It plumps up and drys out and loses alot of that stickiness. You end up with about two cups cooked rice.
It’s good to put on four cups of tomato sauce to warm, so it won’t be stone cold when you pour it over the chicken and rice. You can season it too, but don’t let it get too thick. You want it to be a little watery cause the rice will soak it up.
I brown the wings or whatever chicken pieces in a hot skillet with some vegie oil. I get it good and hot, to sear the outside nice and brown. I don’t need to cook it all the way through because it will cook some more in the sauce. When I get the pieces good and brown on both sides, I take them out of the pan and put them on a plate nearby. Then I throw in some diced onions and garlic and whatever spices. I cook that through for a couple minutes, then I put the chicken back in. I take the rice and spoon it into the little nooks and crannies between the chicken. Then I dump that sauce in, try to spread it around good. I put a nice heavy lid on that, and let it go for about 25 minutes, until the chicken seems all the way done. Keep it low so you don’t scorch it, just nice and bubbly.
We topped off our meal with a pile of skinny asparagus, on sale for $1.99, and a nice green salad featuring a gorgeous big tomato from those vines we got late at the Farmer’s Market.
I could have used more rice, maybe a cup and a half, because I ended up with a lot of sauce leftover. Tonight I will have to serve the remaining chicken and sauce with either box spaghetti or homemade cornbread to soak up all that delicious sauce, which came out of our garden – can’t waste that!
Pretty soon my husband and our crazy sheep dog Max, who thinks he’s a bird dog, will go out to get me some wild chickens. I never thought to try this dish with pheasant, we usually daub it with cranberry or apple sauce and bake it. But this recipe would probably be fabulous for any game bird, I’ll let you know.