Monday, July 13, 2009

A Little Help from My Friends ...

... my friends at G.L. Mezzetta fine foods that is! A few weeks ago, a representative of Mezzetta reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in sampling some of their wares. I did a little research on the company and found out that they have been in business since 1935 and offer an impressive array of jarred peppers, olives, wine infused pasta sauces and more. Naturally, I said yes.

They were kind enough to send me a jar of their lovely Napa Valley Bistro Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce and some delicious Deli Sliced Hot Pepper Rings. Yum! The Napa Valley Bistro sauce is made with ripe California tomatoes, fresh garlic and Pinot Noir. As delicious as it is on its own, I decided to turn that jar into an absolutely stunning Chicken Cacciatore.

Quick and Easy Chicken Cacciatore:
  • 2 large bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 large bone-in, skinless whole chicken legs
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or white flour)
  • pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 of a large Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1 dry pint of Crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup of dry red or white wine (you could also use Rose)
  • 1/2 cup of non-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • one 27.5 oz. jar of Napa Valley Bistro Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 or 5 larges leaves of Basil, torn into pieces
  • some cooked whole wheat noodles
  • some chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • some freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Place the flour on a large flat plate or baking dish and to it add a pinch of salt, some freshly ground black pepper, the poultry seasoning and paprika, stir well with a fork to blend. Dredge the chicken breasts and legs in the seasoned flour to coat, shaking off the excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a very large, heavy bottomed, deep skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the chicken and brown well on both sides, about 5 minutes per side should do it. Remove chicken and reserve.

If necessary, add 2 tsp. of olive oil to the pan, along with the peppers, onions, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and saute over medium high heat, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan, until the onions are translucent and the peppers are just beginning to brown - about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the oregano and stir to combine. Add the wine, stirring well and scraping the bottom of the pan, bring to a simmer and allow the wine to reduce by half, then add the chicken broth, the jar of sauce and a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Stir well to combine and add the parsley and basil. Return the chicken, skin side (or what would be skin side) down, to the pan. Nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce so that they are covered, bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, test one of the larger piece of chicken with an instant read thermometer to ensure they are cooked throughout. Serve the chicken, along with the sauce, over some cooked whole wheat noodles or pasta, along with some chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese for garnish. Enjoy!

As written this recipe will serve 4 and there will be some amazing sauce leftover as well.

Honestly, this cacciatore was so good I'd like to eat it every night. It came together in a flash and the Napa Valley Bistro Sauce made for a wonderfully rich and well seasoned base. Mezzetta products are widely available in grocery stores across the country, though if you cannot find them, you could certainly substitute a large (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes.

In the spirit of full disclosure, and for any of you hard-core South Beachers out there, there is some sugar in the jarred sauce. It is not among the first 5 ingredients, so that's good, but it is there nonetheless. And, frankly, I'm not sure why. Ripe tomatoes are sweet enough all on their own and the sauce is beautifully seasoned. I wish manufacturers would not feel the need to add sugar to their products, but until our collective, national taste buds change, or until we rise up and demand they leave it out - I suppose its a fact of life. That said, I'm impressed with this product and really, really impressed with my chicken cacciatore! So much so that I can't wait for the leftovers tonight. I hope you'll try it!

We'll address those sliced hot pepper rings in a future post. Stay tuned.

Bon appetit!


Heavenly Housewife said...

This really looks wonderful. Its very gloomy and rainy in England right now, something like this looks perfect for today, very comforting :)

The Duo Dishes said...

Very interested in sliced pepper rings, so please fill us in. Love those things on sandwiches and in pasta. Looks like a great week night dish. The leftover sauce alone will be great for other uses.

stephchows said...

Gotta love friends... or friendly companies :) lol yum!

The Diva on a Diet said...

HH - this is just the thing for a gloomy, rainy night. It will cheer you right up! :)

Duo - We love them on sandwiches too! I just need to get making and photographing them!! Its on the ever-grown "to do" list. :)

Steph - sometimes a little help in the kitchen goes a very long way. No, if only I had some of your lovely herb bread to sop up that sauce! Yum! ;)

pixelgal said...

Can't wait to try this recipe which sounds easy and delicious...and the one about the quinoa. Thanks for the great tips for easy summer cooking. And I agree about the sugar. What did I do before the Diva????? Well there was the Cotswold savory.......

Donna-FFW said...

That sounds like a totally delicious meal. Awesome use of such tasty products! Nicely done, wonderful choice of meal!

Deb said...

Products sound good but really glad to see a return of the chicken head!

Christie's Corner said...

I haven't made chicken cacciatore in years. I must put it back into the rotation since it's one of those dishes everyone eats.

Tangled Noodle said...

Oh Diva! I didn't realize that you had already used this Beatles line when I put it in my most recent! Maybe it was a sign that I needed to come here and catch up on all your posts I've missed! The Mezzetta pasta sauce sounds delicious and this cacciatore looks incredibly savory over the pasta. Can't wait to see what you do with the hot pepper rings!