Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chicken Spezzatino

Everyday Italian cover pic from AmazonI asked JunkMale if I'd ever blogged this recipe before, and he said I hadn't. I can't imagine why. It's one of my all-time favorite winter meals. I first heard about this recipe when watching Everyday Italian on the Food Network back in my college days, and it was one of the very few recipes that looked so good I actually tried the recipe. It does take a good bit of effort to make, though, so I recommend making a lot at one time. The recipe I'm posting is actually double the original. Feel free to increase proportions even more to suit your family, or even to halve them for the original recipe. The official title of the recipe is 'stew' (spezzatino means stew in Italian), but I find it's more of a soup. Either way it is yummy. I have never tried this in a crock pot, but I imagine it would still taste yummy and require a lot less work in there. Let me know how it works out if you try it! Serve with biscuits, buttered baguettes, or garlic bread. Baguettes are my personal favorite, the crustier the better.

Chicken Spezzatino, with much thanks to Giada De Laurentiis*

2 to 4 Tbs olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 small onions (or 1 large), chopped
2 14-oz cans chopped tomatoes with juices (I prefer fresh or frozen...)
28 oz chicken broth (you can substitute with water, but if you do that be sure you use bony chicken pieces; the chicken stock flavor is important!)
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in pieces (or 1 tsp dried basil)
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
4 chicken breasts, or about 3 lbs chicken pieces
2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or cook your own from dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil until they have softened. Add salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, broth, basil, thyme, tomato paste, and bay leaf. Add the chicken pieces and press to submerge. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is nearly cooked through (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans** and simmer another 10 minutes or until the stew has thickened slightly. Shred the chicken (remove skin and bones if applicable), adjust the seasoning, and serve.

**To make the stew thicker, you can mash up some or all of the beans. I have done this before and liked it, but it is also enjoyable with all of the beans whole. Experiment and find out how you like it!

*Giada De Laurentiis is our favorite cook here in the Junk family. I have her Everyday Italian cookbook, and thus far the only recipe we haven't absolutely raved over was her lasagna. We love her chicken stew, her arugula pesto (arugula is one of those vegetables I thought I would never eat), and her pasta primavera. According to JunkMale, there is no better marinara sauce than her's. If you like Italian food, we highly recommend her cookbook. Or you could just look up some of her recipes online, which are free!

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