Two chicken breasts and two chicken thighs (with the bone)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 fresh green pepper, diced
1/2 cup dry vermouth (NOT cooking vermouth, which has lots of salt, but
the regular kind)
About 7 ripe Roma tomatoes with skins and stems removed (see below
for an easy way to do this, or, if fresh tomatoes are not an option, use 1
large can of tomatoes)
1 teaspoon basil or a few fresh basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1 handful pitted black olives, quartered
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
First, prepare the tomatoes. If you're using fresh tomatoes, put on a
pot of water to boil. When it's boiling, drop in the tomatoes. Check
them every few seconds; remove each tomato once its skin has split and put
it in a bowl to cool (we'll return to them later). If you're using
canned tomatoes, simply cut off the tough tops from each tomato. As they cool, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Remove any skin
from chicken and trim excess fat. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and
dice the pepper (but keep them in separate bowls or in separate places on your cutting board). Combine flour and pepper in a small bowl. Leave
the olives alone for now.
Step 2: Precook the Chicken
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Coat the
chicken in the flour-pepper mixture and saute it until it's
just golden brown on the outside (it should NOT be cooked through at this
point!). Remove it and set it aside. If you're using fresh tomatoes, remove their skins
and cut off the tough tops (careful, they'll still be a little hot). Cut
them into big chunks while you're at it. Keep an eye on the oil to make
sure it doesn't start to smoke while you're doing this.
Start the Sauce
Drop the onions into the saucepan and saute them for 5 minutes (if
they start to turn brown on the edges, it's time to stop.) Add the garlic
and saute for a minute or two. Add the peppers and stir constantly until
they're just barely tender (they should be neither crunchy nor
squishy...the texture should be that of, say, a pear). Now comes the
fun part. Dump in the vermouth and turn the heat to medium-high.
Depending on your predilections, you can either stand back or
lean over the pan and inhale the fumes. Whatever you do, stir
until the liquid has boiled off a little.
Finish the Sauce
Turn the heat back down to medium and let things cool off a bit. Now
put in the chicken. Put in the tomatoes and the bay leaf. If you're
using dried basil, put it in the palm of your hand and rub it firmly; if you're using fresh basil, mince it. Put the basil in the pan too
and spoon the sauce on top of the chicken as best you can.
Reduce heat to low and simmer. Important: You MUST turn the chicken
over every five minutes or so or it will likely burn, creating a gross,
ill-tasting mess! It'll take about 1/2 hour-45 minutes to finish cooking;
it's done when you poke the thigh and it releases clear juice (or you
can just cut into a piece and see if it looks like cooked chicken ;-))
Meanwhile, cook some pasta or rice or whatever you want to serve with
it. Also, quarter the olives.
Finish up and serve!
Once the chicken's done, remove it from the pan (but leave the sauce in
there). Cover it or put it in an oven at low temperature to keep warm. Turn the heat up to medium-high and put in the olives. Stir and cook
until the liquid has reduced somewhat (it's not going to get thick, but
it should not be runny). Mix the sauce with the chicken, put it over the
pasta or rice or whatever, and serve!