As I mentioned to you last week, the I Heart Cooking Clubs group now begins six months of cooking with Giada de Laurentiis. I know she has her detractors, but I admit to being a big fan - I've used many of her recipes downloaded from the Food Network website, and so far I've found every single one of them to be quick, simple and totally reliable. Now I eagerly await my copy of Giada's Kitchen which I've just ordered, and am looking forward to having Giada join good company on my kitchen bookshelves.
Born in Rome, Italy, and then raised in Southern California, I love the way Giada takes Italian classics but is not afraid to put a Californian spin on them. I know there are some purists who may be appalled by this, but in my opinion it takes a good understanding of, and respect for, the classics to be able to pull this off successfully.
I'm sure most of us have the idea of Italian food preparation being a time-consuming business, and indeed I believe that can be the case. But, hey, Giada's a busy woman - I don't imagine that she often has the time to be spending all afternoon rolling pasta, as her grandmother may have done. So I like that she is not ashamed to take a few shortcuts here and there, but demonstrates that you can still deliver a good, healthy, flavourful, Italian-style meal to the table using good quality, fresh ingredients with a minimum amount of fuss and effort.
Now, as I've told you here before, I'm a "make it from scratch" kind of woman as much as I can be. Aside from wanting to know where everything that I eat comes from, I love the process of being involved as much as possible in every stage of producing what I eat - okay, so I'm not going to go out and kill a chicken (though I truly believe that if I'm prepared to eat the bird then I really should do that) and being able to press my own olive oil is not a reality (I could go on, but you get my drift). The point I'm trying to make is that I want my cooking to be more than just an assembling of store-bought ingredients. That said, I'm not super-woman - sometimes the day is just too busy, or I didn't plan well enough in advance (making everything for a meal from scratch requires planning), and I just have to get a meal together from ingredients I have on hand, and do it quick. It's times like that I often turn to Giada, and so far she hasn't failed me.
So this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we are all throwing open the kitchen doors and saying "Welcome" to Giada - I thought this Roman-style Chicken (original recipe here) would be the perfect way to do that. It was definitely quick and easy to make (though could be largely made ahead if you were organised enough), full of flavour, light and fresh, and would also be great to make for a crowd. Sadly my photos don't do it justice at all, but it was late and dark and I was in too much of a hurry to get it to the table.
Roman-Style Chicken Recipe
Adapted from recipe by
Giada de Laurentiis
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1kg (2lb) chicken pieces
flaky sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
3 slices prosciutto, finely chopped (I used smoked, streaky bacon)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g (15oz) can whole tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (if using dried 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano (if using dried 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers (drained & rinsed)
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Season all the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add chicken pieces and cook until browned all over. You may have to do this in a couple of batches. Remove and set aside.
Add a little more olive oil if necessary to the pan, add the prosciutto (or bacon) and peppers and cook until the prosciutto is crispy and the peppers are starting to caramelise and soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine - let it bubble up and use a wooden spatula to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme and oregano.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the chicken stock, and bring everything up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and continue to simmer until the chicken is completely cooked through - this will take about 20-30 minutes.
(If making ahead, remove from the heat at this stage, cool completely, and then refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use. Reheat over medium heat to a simmer before continuing.)
To complete the dish, add the capers and flat-leaf parsley. Stir through and serve immediately.
I served this with some crispy, oven-roasted, rosemary potatoes, a fresh, green salad, and a glass of Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc, and I will absolutely be making this again - welcome, Giada, it's nice to have you in my home!
Interested in getting to know Giada a bit better? Then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all been cooking up ....
.... or check out Giada's Kitchen and many of her other titles, available from Amazon, Book Depository UK and Fishpond NZ