Ingredients:

Two chicken breasts and two chicken thighs (with the bone)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Olive oil
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.

Simmer

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!


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