Friday, October 16, 2009

What are you, chicken?

I love chicken cacciatore. Some people pick at chicken in tomato sauce like it's a bizarre hybrid, like a hot fudge sundae with a cherry tomato on the whipped cream.

I don't get it. What's not to like? Rich with tomatoes and onions, chicken cacciatore, or hunter’s-style chicken, is a timeless Italian favorite. Almost. Like Chinese food, Italian cuisine is peppered with dishes that aren’t really native to the country we think. Chicken cacciatore, while based on a typical way of cooking game in central Italy, is an invention of the restaurants of ethnic neighborhoods across America.

But still...everybody likes chicken. So maybe it's just the bubbling pot of stewy-ness that's scary. I say, throw it on a pizza and bring 'em to the table.

Cacciatore Pizza

1 pizza crust
1 pound roasted or poached chicken (Leftover chicken is perfect, but the tender, succulent meat from a deli rotisserie bird is also wonderful.)
1 c. canned diced tomatoes
½ c. white wine
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped red and green peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T. chopped fresh basil, or 1 t. dried basil
½ c. shredded mozzarella
¼ c. grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pizza crust on baking sheet.

Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. In a saucepan, combine tomatoes, wine, onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook on medium, covered, until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened. Add sugar, salt, pepper and basil. Stir in chicken. Cook another 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken and vegetables from the sauce and spread over crust. Serve remaining sauce with pizza. Top with cheeses. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and golden.

Extra Extra!

Fowl Play – In Venice, the Padovano chicken is a popular item on many menus. The bird in question was developed when the Marchese Giovanni Dondi brought an unusual bird back from Poland in the 14th Century. It produced a cross-breed that was formally acknowledged in the 17th Century as Gallina Padovano, and referred to as “a race caught between myth and reality.” And it tastes pretty good, too.

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