Have you ever had a meal that has impressed you so much, its deliciousness pops into your head for days and you find yourself talking about it? This is one of those meals. We had this for dinner a little over a week ago and ever since, my husband will still look at me, at the most random times, and say, “That chicken was really, really good.” In fact, I don’t even think he realizes how much he’s said it to me. This, my friends, is the power of a great meal.
This dish is impressive enough to entertain with, but simple enough that we had it for dinner on a weeknight. And based on the reception it received, we’ll be having it again, on another weeknight, very soon.
I started by prepping my veggies. I diced up an onion, some carrots and celery, and peeled a heap of garlic.
Once that was done, I started browning up my chicken pieces. I bought a whole chicken that had been cut into pieces. I cut the breasts in half. I browned the chicken on the stove-top, with a little bit of salt and pepper and some olive oil.
Once all of the chicken was browned, I removed it to a plate and set it aside, added a bit more olive oil to the pan,and started sauteing up my veggies.
As I cooked them, I made sure to scrape up the brown bits from the chicken on the bottom.
Once the veggies had started to soften, I added the ingredients for the spectacular sauce. Into the pan went some sugar, Chianti, red wine vinegar, orange juice, capers, and some sliced almonds. I brought this mixture to a boil, and added my chicken back into the pan.
I covered the pan, lowered the heat, and let the mixture simmer until the chicken was cooked through, about thirty minutes. This gives that delicious sauce time to really permeate that plain ol’ chicken and turn it into something wonderful.
Once the chicken was cooked through, I removed it to a plate and reduced down the sauce just a bit, to intensify the flavor. Once it had thickened a bit, I put the chicken back in the pan for a quick warm up, and we were ready to go!
The sauce with this chicken is so incredibly good. Despite the long cooking time, the veggies stayed just crisp enough, and between the almond crunch, salty tang from the capers, and the sweet wine, we were in chicken dinner heaven.
ITALIAN SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN
Adapted from Mario Batali
- One 4-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces, each breast split crosswise (I didn’t use the wings)
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 2 large celery ribs, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup light bodied red wine (I used Chianti)
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 Tbsp. capers, drained
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Season the chicken pieces, on both sides, with salt and pepper. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. Pour off the excess oil from the pan.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften, about 8 minutes.
- Add the sugar, wine, vinegar, orange juice, capers and almonds to the vegetables and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Cover the pan partially, and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30-35 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate. Boil the pan sauce over high heat until it thickens a bit, about 3-5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Return the chicken to the skillet until warmed through.
- Transfer to a plate and spoon the sauce over the top of the chicken before serving.