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Dinner Time is Family Time

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About a week ago, I stumbled across an old recipe that, way back when, would be a go-to meal for dinner at our house. When my family was young and we were busy with school events, work and catering on the side, I tried my best to make healthy meals. To this day. my girls will say that Mom had only one big rule; that was to be home for dinner, not just once in a while, all the time. We made our dinners family time during which we could talk and find out what was going on with each other over a good meal. Taking some classics recipes and making them a one dish meal became a challenge for me. I wanted meals that were healthy, nutritious and easy for me to get dinner together in a short of time. I want to talk about one of those today, and that’s chicken cacciatore.  

This is a tasty chicken meal that I serve with rice. When I first made cacciatore, it would be served over a bed of white steamed rice. Then one day I had a brainstorm and added the rice with extra broth to the pan to make it a one-dish meal. Serving this with a green side salad fit the bill for a great family dinner. This has wonderful amount of vegetables in it, which gives it a fresh flavor. You start with lightly breading and browning the chicken, setting it to the side, and adding onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan. I use only my homemade tomatoes in this recipe and that’s why I started making this for the family. Don’t worry; there are many other tomato products that you can use to make this dish just as delicious.  

A reminder of how it good it really was jumped out at me when I made it for the first time in a long time for dinner for my husband. He was excited about dinner and couldn’t stop talking about it. Let’s make some dinner!

Chicken Cacciatore

6 bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ cup flour
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, chopped
8-10 oz. sliced mushrooms; I use button mushrooms
6-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock, or 1 cup stock and 1 cup red wine
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
Fresh basil (optional)
Fresh parmesan (optional)

Wash the chicken and pat dry using a paper towel. Season both sides of the thighs with salt and pepper then dredge through flour. You want a light coat of flour to help give it a brown color. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. You want it to brown but not too fast. Start by placing the chicken into the hot oil skin side down for 5 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side of the thighs. When brown, remove the thighs from the pan and set to the side. Toss in the bell pepper, onion and mushrooms, sauté for 4-5 minutes, then add the garlic. To make this a one-pan meal, add 1/2 cup white rice, sautéing with the vegetables. Add the chicken stock (or stock and wine) and tomatoes. If you are making the one-pan meal, add 1 additional cup of stock. Let cook for 5 minutes. Now add the chicken thighs back into the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer until the liquid reduces to half; if it’s a one-pan meal, make sure the rice is tender. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

If you made this a one-pan meal, serve as is along with a salad. Or, while the chicken is simmering, cook a pot of rice or noodles to serve under the cacciatore. When serving, a great addition is some fresh basil and slivered parmesan cheese.

The dinner was amazing and brought back many memories; the only thing missing was my girls. It’s another fun and delicious dinner from my recipe box to yours.