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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Al Forno's On Top of Spaghetti- now that's Italian

I come from Providence, RI. A famous restaurant Al Forno is located close to the downtown area near my brother's furniture store. The husband and wife team, both from the Rhode Island School of Design, (they have been on Emeril Lagassi's show) inspired the wood fired pizza craze and made it popular. But they also have many other spectacular Italian inspired dishes.

I have been to Al Forno once but thought I could find some other recipes to try in a cookbook. Their fires book " Cucino Simpatica" has won rave reviews. Now their second one "On Top of Spaghetti" is out and after reading the reviews, I bought my first Italian cookbook after many years.

What I like about this book has recipes which are unusual, different that take Italian recipes to a different level. Also the introduction to each recipes that tells about how each recipe came to fruition.

I always thought Chicken Cacciatore needed sauce. Not this one! The first dish I tried was roasted tomatoe sauce. I combined it with this recipe and it is amzing.

This was one amazing dish- Buy the book at Amazon.com low price. Many different, out of the ordinary and superb recipes.
Eric Flescher (dreric1kansas@aol.com)
Olathe, KS
Kansas City Traveling Gourmet blog

let me know what you think!

Spaghetti and Summer Chicken Cacciatore
adapted from On Top of Spaghetti by Johanne Killen and George Germon (P.147-8)

8 medium ripe tomatoes
8 chicken thighs (my option: or use 2-4 chicken breasts)
2 tblspn olive oil
2 oz pancetta (option I skipped this)
4 cups chopped yellow onions
3 cups chopped celery with leaves
1 jalapeno pepper finely minced
1/8 tspn red pepper flakes ( more if you want more heat)
1 or 2 tspn sea salt ( I used kosher salt)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (I used powder dried 1 tspn)
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 1 dried bay leave
1/4 cup coursely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb spaghetti
4 tbls butter or margarine
2 cups mushrooms (optional
parmesan cheese ( I left this out)

(1) Boil water and and drop tomatoes into it for 30 seconds.
(2) Remove tomato to cutting board , cut in half and the take off the skin.
(3) scoop out pulp and strain the seeds out and discard them leaving pulp and juice.

option: I actually did not do this . I used one of their other recipes to roast the tomatoes for in oven after cutting them (I use halves cherry tomatoes in stead of big tomatoes). Roast for 20 minutes at 400 f. I then blended them until smooth.

(4) Heat olive oil in dutch oven (caste iron skillet) Add the chicken and saute brown over high heat. Turn and keep browning Transfer chicken to plate.

(5) (Optional) Cook Pancetta if desired until browned then set aside

(6) Stir the onions, celery, jalapeno, pepper flakes, 1/2 the salt, rosemary, bay leaves and parsely.

(7) add the pancetta if desired. Lower heat.

(8) Stir the mixture and scrap the browning bits from the chicken etc and keep stirring for 10 minutes. \

(9) add wine , raise the heat and cook unti the wine is evaporated.

(10) Return the chicken and juices that have collected on the plate into the dutch oven with the vegetables.

(11) Add those tomatoes and juices cover the oven/pot, Lower heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

(12) During last few minutes test and add more salt if needed.

(13) Remove bay leaf and rosemary spring (if fresh used) .

(14 ) Keep warm on low heat.

(15) Use butter and add with mushrooms and cooked.

(16) Cook spaghetti Al dente drain expect leaf a small amount of water in a cup (1/2 cup). This extra cooked water can be used to freshen the spaghetti if needed and unloosen strands of spahghetti that stick.

(17) Toss and combine the mushrooms to the vegetables mixture and chicken on to a plate.

(18) optional - add parmesan cheese.

(19) Left over vegetable sauce and spagehetti for leftovers, lunch dinner or snack. Great too!!

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