Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sweet Basil's Chicken Cacciatore

Sweet Basil, located in Needham (about 15 miles from Boston) is one of my all time favorite restaurants in the Boston area. This tiny little open kitchen restaurant seats about 22, is one of the few BYOB joints around, only takes cash, doesn't take reservations, and always has a line out the door. But once you're lucky enough to snag a table, you're indulged with a complimentary bowl of garlicky homemade pesto and a generous basket of chewy Italian bread, especially thrilling if you've been waiting outside in the snow for 45 minutes. The food is always flavorful and the portions huge. We usually remember to bring a favorite wine to accompany our repeat order the Sauteed Scallop Salad, Steamed Mussels, and Chicken Cacciatore with Farfalle Noodles. The Chicken Cacciatore is like no other. The chicken is shredded, and it's drowned in a balsamic-wine tomato sauce that's incredibly addicting. I feel lucky to have come upon a rendition of this recipe, courtesy of Food Down Under , that takes me back to Sweet Basil. It takes a little time, but I think well worth it. And for me, it's an easy trip to Boston.

Sweet Basil's Chicken Cacciatore
Yield: 4 -6 servings


2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tsp olive oil
2 med carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup minced garlic
2 stalk celery, diced
10 med mushrooms, diced
3 red bell peppers, sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup port wine
1 1/2 cup red wine
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 2 lb. uncooked pasta
2 tsp asiago or Parmesan cheese
1 bn chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Sprinkle the chicken with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Place in a large, oven-proof casserole and roast for about 20 minutes, until they are fairly well cooked but still juicy.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot. Saute the carrots, onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and peppers until they are well browned but not black. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, two types of wine and Balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and pour over the chicken.

Add the bay leaf and return the casserole to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is barely cooked. Drain, but don't rinse the pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the casserole and let it finish cooking (out of the oven) in the sauce, about 2-3 minutes, depending on how you like your pasta. If the sauce is a little dry, add some of the pasta cooking water. If it is too watery, let the pasta sit and sop up some of the liquid.

To serve, garnish with cheese and basil.


Blogger realestatebroker said...

A little blogger told me it's your birthday. Dont cook tonight! Blow out those candles, babe, and have a great celebration.

March 23, 2006  

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