Chicken Cacciatore

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With Mom's side of the family cooking Italian and Dad's cooking German, family gatherings offered a spread of tasty dishes.

Mom was often asked to bring 
Chicken Cacciatore when visiting Dad's relatives. She included Italian sausage links with the chicken in the simmering sauce, so guests could enjoy one or the other or both.  I think sausage adds great extra flavor to the sauce, but it's optional.

Cacciatore is Italian for “hunter,” referring to a sauce that covered browned chicken in 
Renaissance times, also rabbit pieces, when wealthy people hunted wild game, and the sauce covered the wild taste.

White wine can be used instead of red wine, but Mom kept the popular inexpensive Mogan David red wine on hand back in the 50s. When in grade school, I recall Italian gatherings where children were allowed to take "just a sip" of the wine at dinner.

Chicken Cacciatore
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  • 2 cups flour for coating
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp.pepper
  • 6 to 8 chicken parts: thighs, legs, wings
  • Optional: two or three Italian sausage links, cut into  2 or 3-inch serving sizes
  • 2 Tabs. vegetable oil or bacon fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsps. garlic minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. mixed Italian herbs, dried oregano, rosemary, basil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup  sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
  • salt and pepper to taste
bay leaf
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 pound of cooked spaghetti
half a cup of Parmesan cheese

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag or bowl. Shake chicken pieces in flour until coated. Heat oil in a large skillet and fry until browned, about 3 or 4 minutes each side. Remove from skillet.  If  using sausage brown a few minutes on each side and remove.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppAdd onion, garlic, mushrooms and bell pepper to the skillet and saute until onion is slightly browned. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, paste, herbs and wine.  Stir to combine all then return chicken (and sausage) to the skillet, spooning some sauce over meat pieces. Cover and simmer for 60 minutes over medium low heat, until chicken is "fall off the bone" tender.  Depending on size of piece, it may take longer than 60 minutes.  Remove bay leaf. 

Meanwhile cook pasta until tender and drain.  To serve use a large bowl or platter; pour and mix sauce with cooked pasta and set chicken and sausage pieces on top.  Grate Parmesan cheese all over the top and have cheese on the table for adding more to servings, if desired. Serves 6-8.

Estimated Cost with chicken only: $10.00 or less; $1.66 per serving or less.

Chicken Liver Pate, Appetizer

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Appetizers and snack trays, which our family calls "snick snacks" are a must while gathering before a dinner, or party, especially on holidays.

Along with the expected cheese spreads and/or dips a good liver pate is always welcomed.  This recipe came from a friend who made it for a wedding anniversary party. She said the recipe had been in her family for generations.

The secret to its smoothness is the butter and the fact that the chicken livers are cooked in liquid, rather than sauteed, as many recipes call for. Cooking in water keeps them moist, and they pick up the flavors of the onion and garlic.

Serve with toasted bread rounds or crackers. Enjoy!
For other party appetizer ideas, which includes a sour cream liver sausage paste/pate, here's a link to my tried and true party delights.

Chicken Liver Pate
1 pound chicken livers
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1 cup water
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
pepper to taste
10 to 12 Tabs. butter (at room temperature)
2 hard boiled eggs peeled and chopped
2 Tabs. sherry brandy or wine
toasted bread rounds or crackers
optional garnishes: chives, green onion slices, chopped hard boiled eggs, parsley

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Rinse chicken livers and pat dry. Cut off any white connective tissue. In a saucepan, combine chicken livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Add the water, cover, and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. Discard bay leaf and drain off liquid. Add the cooked chicken livers, onion, garlic, pepper, chopped eggs and nutmeg to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, then add butter a few tablespoons at a time, pulsing to blend.
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When all butter has been added, add sherry, brandy or wine and process until a very smooth consistency. Transfer pate to small bowls or ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, arrange with toasted bread rounds or crackers and garnish with chopped chives, green onions, parsley or more chopped hard boiled eggs. Makes 2 cups.

Estimated cost: $3.50 or less.

Mini Fish Tacos with Avocado Dressing

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I first tried a fish taco at a local street fair about two years ago and was surprised by the great taste, so started making them at home.

While this recipe calls for mini, 4-inch tortillas, larger 7-inch ones may be used.  I keep the smaller ones on hand for many other recipes and snacks, as they're handy for just the two of us, and help with portion control.

I've used red snapper, cod, or tilapia, as they're  firm.  I've even used steamed or sauteed shrimp.

Make everything and set out for folks to assemble their own tacos. Allow 3 or 4 mini tacos per person.  Side dishes could be a green salad, corn on the cob,  or Mexican Rice.

Mini Fish Tacos with Avocado Dressing
    2 to 3 Tabs. fresh lime juice
    salt and pepper to taste
    4 cups of finely shredded cabbage
    2 Tabs. vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
    2 pounds thick, firm white fish fillets
    Old Bay to season fish
    24, 4-inch flour tortillas, warmed or 10, 7-inch
    2 medium tomatoes, chopped
    Hot sauce, for serving
    Optional: lime wedges, shredded cheese
    My Avocado Dressing
    Make your own Avocado Dressing or Guacamole Sauce, or use a store bought brand. Put in a small container and chill.

    In a bowl, toss the cabbage with the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

    Brush fish with oil and season with Old Bay. Saute over moderately high heat until lightly browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the fish to a platter and cut into one or two inch pieces.

    To assemble each taco, spread a dollop of avocado dressing or guacamole on a warm tortilla. Top with a few pieces of fish, a few tomato pieces, and a large spoonful of the cabbage slaw. Serve with hot sauce, shredded cheese and lime wedges. Serves 6 - 8.

    Estimated cost: $10 or less; $1.66 per person or less.