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yentakaren

Trying to make a Chicken Cacciatore recipe I ate 2 years ago in Long Island, New York

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Hi there Italian chefs around the world - 
 
Two years ago (while visiting my family in New York - we live for 25 years in California))  we went to New York and ate in an Italian Restaurant in Syosset Long Island, New York (Steve's Piccola Bussola) and ordered their Chicken Cacciatore.  It was unbelievable, so savory and tender and juice and it had 4 lean and juicy (no skin, no fat, no gristle) rollups wrapped around what looked like a small (about 1-2" rib bone) (in chicken???_ was able to get some of the recipe because I called them 2x, but after 5 tries at various times, I am giving up.  He (the chef) said they used thighs - but the thighs I know are fatty and tough so I don't know where they got it.  He said they buy the whole chickens and cut it up, so I guess they can get rid of the fat,skin and gristle that way.
 
One, because I am never able to get their dark brown sauce (don't know how they do it because having a brown sauce by working with chicken, mushrooms, wine and onions is an enigma.  Their sauce is not sweet, or sour just rich and savory.
 
I saw the kind of sauce that it was when I saw the recipe of Hubert Keller's Beef Borguignon on TV, but it looked soooo difficult and was made with meat, not chicken.
That has meat rollups sitting in a dark brown sauce.
 
Help!  I want to learn how to make that.
 
The initial recipe that they gave me was this:  
 

Take chicken and cut it into pieces the size of a meatball with or without the bone.

Take olive oil and make very hot.  Brown.  Add 2 cups chicken stock, salt and pepper, parsley, and simmer for ½ hour.  After brown, put until broiler and brown some more.

In another skillet, put mushrooms, onions, little tomato sauce, and when sizzling and hot, add white wine (or Marsala) and cook in pan – ½ hour.  Add butter to thicken – but do not boil after butter melts

Said I can also put a little tomato sauce in there - maybe it was tomato paste.

After ready, marry the two and cook another 15 minutes all together (or not) – just eat it.

 

Below is a photo of Steve's Chicken Cacciatore - I know it looks like beef, but this is chicken!

 

 

Steve's Piccola Bussola Chicken Cacciatore.png

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Mushrooms make brown sauces. Not an enigma. One day, try sauteing a few then making scrambled eggs with them in the pan. The eggs will be dark brown, almost black-ish.

 

Modern chicken won't be tough, any part, unless it's cooked at too high of a temperature. If you're serving tough chicken thighs, you need to re-calibrate your kitchen thermometer.

 

In this recipe, it's key to not allow the chicken to get hotter than a simmer, ideally no hotter than 165°F. You can use almost any chicken parts, with or without skin (skin will be flabby), bones or no bones. Restaurants often use dark meat, it has more flavor and is more flexible in terms of temperature ranges. Thighs generally have two strips of fat which are easily trimmed off. Gristly tendons are more commonly found in legs rather than thighs.

 

I believe the sentence about browning under the broiler should be prior to the addition of liquid to the chicken.

 

Don't scrimp on mushrooms, they define this dish. In Italy, it's traditional to use several kinds of mushrooms in it.

 

The only change I would make to the recipe would be to start the tomato sauce by caramelizing the onions with salt in a little oil (this takes about a half hour), then add the mushrooms, salt and cook for a minute or two, then lower the heat to low, deglaze with a glug of marsala, allow the alcohol to steam off, then add tomato sauce (I would prefer to add peeled diced tomatoes rather than a pre-made sauce, even if the sauce were homemade.) and mount with butter and immediately mix with chicken & its liquid.

 

Other than that, take a look online. It's a simple dish, Epicurious has a good recipe, so do Jamie Oliver and Delia. HERE's Martha showcasing Eleanora Scarpetta making her version.

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Hi Lisa, and thank you so much for replying to my question.  I also was curious how they made the roll-ups instead of pieces;  you told me how to make the sauce browner.  I am going to change my recipe to include using more mushrooms and taking butter and immediately mix with the chicken and the liquid.  Is this supposed to thicken it?

 

Anyway, when I have the nerve once again, I will try it.

 

Karen

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Butter has emulsifying properties if it doesn't get too hot and break. That's the basis of sauces like beurre blanc.

 

For rolls, take the raw thighs and pound thin between layers of plastic wrap or wax paper. (like you would with breasts for making piccata)  For smaller rolls, cut in half.

 

I wasn't that clear about what was inside the rolls, as you mention rib bones being there. If there are chunks of chicken wrapped inside, brown them before rolling. To roll, I'd set up the thighs with the smooth side down, irregular side (what used to be next to the bone) up. Season the top with salt and a little minced garlic. Place whatever is going inside on the top. Get out some twine, leaving it on the roll. Roll up each roll and tie with twine moving from each one to the next, keeping the twine intact and only cutting it when you are done. Tie the two ends together, this will wind up looking like a wagon train pulled into a circle for the night. Dredge in flour, brown in oil or butter, broil a little longer for extra browning, pull out of broiler and add stock, salt & pepper, and parsley. Carefully simmer on the stovetop until the centers of the rolls get to 165°. Mix with the mushroom/tomato mix, mount with butter and serve.

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Hi Lisa,

 

Sounds complicated...but if I decipher it, it really isn't.  I wonder why they say to fry the thighs so how could they form them into roll-ups.  See that was the confusing thing.   I would think it either would be to brown the thighs or to take the thighs and pound them to make them thin and then roll them and then fry them -  - the latter seems to be how they probably did it - wouldn't you think?  It sounds more plausible.  I mean I clearly (I think) remember my being able to separate the layers of the roll with my fork.  Hmmm.  

 

Anyway, thank you so much - I think your idea of the roll-ups certainly seems to reflect what I tasted - consistency-wise.

 

Karen

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Dear Lisa,

 

I incorporated most of what you suggested into the original recipe and when I was typing it, I really think they did (even though they didn't tell me that) the roll-ups how you suggested because everything now seems to make sense.  Without knowing what the measurements of the ingredients were.  I will add that factor when I have my first success, I made up the recipe as follows:

 

CHICKEN CACCIATORE  -

Take chicken (chicken thighs trimmed by the butcher - because I hate fat and gristle) and cut it into pieces the size of a meatball with or without the bone.  Take these pieces of chicken and pound them between pieces of plastic wrap. 

Take these flat pounded pieces of thigh and set aside.  Take a bone or square pieces of chicken that have been browned and use as the center of the roll.  Set up the pounded flat pieces of thigh with the smooth side down (irregular side – what used to be near the bone on the chicken should be up.  Season the top with salt and minced garlic.  Place either the bone or piece of chicken on the top.   Tie up each roll with twine, moving from each one to the next, keeping the twine intact and only cutting it when you are done.  Tie up the two ends together and this will end up looking like a wagon train pulled into a circle for the night.  Dredge all the rolls in flour and brown in oil or butter.  Broil a little longer for extra browning.  Pull out of broiler and add stock, salt, pepper and parsley.  Carefully simmer on the stove top until the centers of the rolls get to 165 degrees. 

IN ANOTHER PAN

Take olive oil and make very hot.  Lower heat a little. Brown and caramelize onions for about ½ hour.  Then add lots and lots of mushrooms (1-1/2lbs) and salt and cook for about 2 minutes.  Lower the heat to low and deglaze with a glug of Marsala and cook in pan for ½ hour. Allow the alcohol to steam off, then add peeled diced tomatoes and mount with butter (do not boil butter) and immediately marry the two (chicken and sauce) and cook another 15 minutes all together (or not) – just eat it.  Top with leaves of basil. 

 

How does this sound?

 

Thanks.

 

Karen

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Hi @yentakaren!

 

Welcome to eG.

 

I really dislike chicken cacciatore dishes I get in restaurants that have taken the chicken off the bone or otherwise messed with the simple Italian rendition of hunter's chicken. It's a peasant dish and very delicious when it's done as the peasant creators whose hunter husbands missed getting rabbit that day, so the wife cooked chicken instead. 

 

IMO the dish is not improved by deboning, pounding, rolling or any other fiddly technique. Others disagree, but may not have experienced the original. The skin, bones, fat and broken down cartilage from the joints add richness, flavor and body to the sauce.

 

Marcella Hazan's recipe is similar to the one I grew up making, but Marcella's does not include mushrooms. The one I use does. I know you asked for the restaurant's version, but if you would like to hear about the delicious original they riffed off of, I have a killer recipe for it. It does require the eaters to cut the chicken into pieces off the bone, and it includes the skin and fat, which is not a bad thing in my view. This version is sensuous and primal. Umami is its name, and it's one of the best dishes I make.

 

The chix pieces with their skin are coated with flour and then browned on all sides first and the long cook in the tomato/veg mixture softens it and renders the fat into the sauce. The bits of skin are actually one of the loveliest things about this dish, but it takes time to render the fat and bring out that quality. (I also hate flabby, tough chicken skin, but you won't encounter that here.) This recipe also includes whole canned tomatoes and their juice which break down over the long slow cook. It is a chunky, rustic dish, but I guarantee you will like it.

 

@Lisa Shock's advice, if you insist on doing the rolls is excellent as usual. I would never brown anything, give it a simmer with moisture and then broil it. That's a recipe for drying it out. I hate to burst a bubble, but do you really think you were getting a real recipe? A lot of the instructions sound misleading at best. They want you to come back and buy it there again, without just saying NO to a customer, I suspect.

 

Restaurants don't have the time to make the dish right or do it justice, IMO. :) It's not hard, it just takes time and they have a dearth of that.

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Posted (edited)

Upon review, I'd simmer it for a bit (15 min) after adding the tomatoes and before adding butter, just to cook down the tomatoes a bit. Be warned, I tend to like my tomatoes less cooked than many people. -I do not simmer sauce all day, for example.

 

And, @Thanks for the Crepes is correct, this is supposed to be a rustic hunter's dish nothing fancy. Before reading this thread, I had only ever seen it made with bone-in, skin-on chicken -a whole one with all the parts. (well, that and the time I saw it made from rabbit)

 

HERE's a link to some Italian TV personalities making it. As I watch them, I am struck by how the thigh, viewed from the end appears to be some sort of roll. Are you sure what you had wasn't just a bone-in thigh?

 

Honestly, doing the whole rolling procedure will not add any flavor to the dish. It will just result in really uniform pieces of chicken. And, by not using the skin (and to a lesser extent the bone) you will lose the gelatin which would normally be in the sauce, giving it a rich, thick, silky mouth-feel. I'd try Crepes' recipe first.

 

HERE's the restaurant's Yelp page, which has another image of this dish -this time with a lot more mushrooms. Still difficult to see the chicken, though.

 

The main reason restaurants don't give out recipes is because people don't realize how different restaurant cooking is compared to home cooking. They par-cook then chill dozens of ingredients along with prepping raw foods (like mushrooms) -all in anticipation of order which may or may not come. You can wind up making one plate of lasagna, or 56 plates of it. -And they all have to be identical. (customer service and your account both demand this) So, for a typical restaurant, they have some chicken marked off on the grill but mostly raw, several tubs of sauces simmering in a warmer, a big tub of chilled caramelized onions, and a mini salad-bar's worth of diced and sliced raw items. (plus spices, jarred condiments, pickles, etc.) Most of this stuff can be used tomorrow if no one orders it today.

 

Anyway, your 'recipe' can't really be real because it would take them more than an hour to serve someone after an order is placed. So, they are using shortcuts. They probably pre-cook mushrooms and have them waiting chilled in their own juice. Same with caramelized onions. Since they toss red sauce on almost everything, there's probably a giant pot of it simmering away on the stove or in a warmer. This works great when managing 300 covers a night, not so well in a home kitchen where you are serving a MUCH more limited menu for any given meal. I suspect they just use rolled meat because it probably appears in several other dishes they serve, not because it improves anything. And, this dish was never really designed as a restaurant dish it's more of a homemaker dish or hearkens back to the days before restaurants when an innkeeper's wife might share the family dinner with people paying for rooms.


Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
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7 hours ago, yentakaren said:

the size of a meatball

 

What size is that? Meatballs come in all sizes from tiny to huge.

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Hi there,

 

Hmmm - these responses certainly give me food for thought - that's for sure.  I have to go with my gut.  Also "hmmm" do I really know if they rolled it up or if the bone was a chicken bone.  I don't know really - memory changes over the years.  But I do remember it seemed very layered and was very easy to eat and the bone did not at all seemed like it was bone-in.

 

As I told you, I don't like the idea of fat, gristle or skin which is why I liked this recipe so much.  I didn't have to weed through the chicken to make sure I wasn't eating anything unetable TO ME.  i ate all of it which was very delightful.  I would have to ask them if they left the bone in.  That would be interesting.

 

I will call them again and ask them if they left the bone in.  In the meanwhile I will have to go with my gut.  Maybe I'll brine the chicken or buy kosher chicken instead.

 

Thank you both.

 

Karen

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Hi - Lisa and Thanks for the Crepes,

 

I just called the restaurant -- So the thighs are bone in and they cut them (he said they've been cutting them for 30 years - they know how now :-)) into meatball size pieces.  He insisted that his sauce is used for many dishes  (he named a few other dishes).  He said it's not a brown sauce; it's a tomato sauce.  I asked what makes it brownish.  He said the mushrooms and onions.  

 

That makes it a lot easier - no roll-ups -- I guess.

 

Karen

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My local Korean market sells dark meat chicken that is bone-in but cut into smaller sections, about 1"-2" long. I'd look for that, or ask a butcher to cut thighs into thirds, bone-in. You can do it at home, but, it takes a sharp cleaver and a strong arm to cut the bone.

 

HERE's a different recipe, one aimed at showing how some restaurants make the dish. -It has a lot more vegetables in it, so it looks better to me. Even if you do not make the recipe, I think the video is worth watching. Especially the part where he cooks down the tomato in the fat. (which causes it to change color from a bright red to a brownish color)

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Posted (edited)

 I am having a great deal of difficulty with the idea of chicken thighs cut into meat ball size pieces each containing bone.  I'm not saying it cannot be done I'm just questioning why you would even bother.   A bone in every mouthful? The thought of bone slivers everywhere unless somebody was very careful to rinse these pieces before cooking. I just can't imagine it and especially in a dish meant to be rustic  and made in the home kitchen. I am not trying to start an argument I just expressing my astonishment at the very idea of a dish made this way. Carry on. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Shakespeare, Wm.  

 

 


Edited by Anna N (log)
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52 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 I am having a great deal of difficulty with the idea of chicken thighs cut into meat ball size pieces each containing bone.  I'm not saying it cannot be done I'm just questioning why you would even bother.   A bone in every mouthful? The thought of bone slivers everywhere unless somebody was very careful to rinse these pieces before cooking. I just can't imagine it and especially in a dish meant to be rustic  and made in the home kitchen. I am not trying to start an argument I just expressing my astonishment at the very idea of a dish made this way. Carry on. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Shakespeare, Wm.  

 

 

 

 

 

Might come from the myth that bone adds flavor. Settled long ago on eG.

 

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Hi Lisa,

 

Thank you!  I did look at the video and saw how the red sauce turned brownish.  Very interesting.  Thank you!  Karen

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Hi Anna, the only reason I wanted the thighs cut is because I spoke to the Chef of the restaurant that made the Cacciatore that I wanted to mimic and he said they do that.

 

Thanks for your response.

 

Karen

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3 minutes ago, gfweb said:

 

 

Might come from the myth that bone adds flavor. Settled long ago on eG.

 

 If I were running a restaurant and serving this dish I would make sure I had a damn good lawyer on retainer.   Just saying.

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32 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

My version uses lots of mushroom and no tomato.

 

That's probably more historically accurate.

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13 hours ago, Anna N said:

 I am having a great deal of difficulty with the idea of chicken thighs cut into meat ball size pieces each containing bone.  I'm not saying it cannot be done I'm just questioning why you would even bother.   A bone in every mouthful? The thought of bone slivers everywhere unless somebody was very careful to rinse these pieces before cooking. I just can't imagine it and especially in a dish meant to be rustic  and made in the home kitchen. I am not trying to start an argument I just expressing my astonishment at the very idea of a dish made this way. Carry on. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Shakespeare, Wm.  

 

 

 

For the "meatball" size/shape: could it be that they simply make an incision around the lower joint part of the thigh, severing all muscle and tendons. Then during cooking the meat would contract and for a type of ball with the bone sticking out (like a lollipop) ?

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You know, the dish is a braise -the sort of treatment that makes meat very tender. I am thinking they just cut up the pieces to save a little money (and keep the bone in to make it look like more food) because their menu states that every main dish they make serves 2. So, instead of a couple of thighs per person, they probably cut them into thirds and then serve 9-10 chunks instead of 12. (that and the mystique surrounding bones and their supposed flavor enhancing properties)

 

Overall, it's probably best to use whole thighs. I only suggested cutting them into thirds to mimic the restaurant. Whole thighs will braise nicely, and work well.

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1 hour ago, Duvel said:

For the "meatball" size/shape: could it be that they simply make an incision around the lower joint part of the thigh, severing all muscle and tendons. Then during cooking the meat would contract and for a type of ball with the bone sticking out (like a lollipop) ?

I am not sure that that would work in terms of turning a chicken thigh into the lollypop  quite the way you can do with a drumette. Perhaps you can. I have never tried. 

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59 minutes ago, Anna N said:

I am not sure that that would work in terms of turning a chicken thigh into the lollypop  quite the way you can do with a drumette. Perhaps you can. I have never tried. 

To be honest: I haven't tried either. It was just a triangulation - it works with drumettes, it works with lamb shanks, so it should work with thighs too.

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Hi there - I know for sure that it was not a lollypop.  I remember that for sure.  When I spoke to them yesterday, they said they cut the thighs.

 

Thank you all.  I will be trying and rewriting the recipe until I get it right.  

 

Karen

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