I am much more of a warm/hot weather person than a cold weather person. I hate winter clothes and I LOATHE socks. There is only one aspect of cooler weather that I like.....the change in the menu. We go from eating grilled meats and salads like chick pea or watermelon to roasts, curries, baking and canning tomatoes. I love this change to warmer, spicier, comfort food.
This past weekend was my Father-in-Laws birthday. We were just finishing up two weeks of busy hell here with various crazy obligations every day along with the regular day to day do tos. I love being busy and really do believe that if you want something done ask a busy person to do it.....and I don't mean that I delegate everything because I almost always just do things myself....but that I am always amazed by how much we can accomplish even when we don't think we have time to do anything.
I had spent all of Friday night setting up a huge charity clothing sale for the twins group I belong to. (I love working on it. It is hard work but I love the ladies (hi Tamara!) and have so much fun doing it.) And again working with them running the sale early Saturday morning. I rushed from the sale to another kid's birthday party where Big Daddy and the kids already were, elbow deep in cake. We made it home in time for an early dinner and bed time. I woke up Sunday knowing that we were hosting lunch/dinner and a little birthday celebration for the FIL. It had already been a long weekend (but not in the extra day kinda way) and I can't say I was dying to get cooking or cleaning. Luckily Big Daddy had taken care of the dessert making some GF fudgy brownies. He also got some whipping cream and strawberries to top it off. So all I had to do was the lunch/dinner.
I make a point of stocking up on certain meats when they go on sale. Chicken thighs is one of those items. I am NOT a fan of dark meat usually but I can handle thighs because they are a nice mix of both light and dark meat, they mix beautifully into stews, soups and saucy chicken dishes without getting a tough over cooked texture like breasts can do. Our local organic butcher will often sell 6-8 thighs (depending on size) for approximately $15. You can get this much cheaper if you choose not to use organic.
(I have been thinking of adding to my recipes the relative costs....how to feed a family of four an all organic, high quality, gluten-free, whole foods diet as cheaply as possible....does that sound helpful? interesting? necessary? a waste of time? I will test it out with this recipe and see what the feed back is)
This meal, this Chicken Cacciatore is a gluten free version (some recipes lightly dust the chicken in flour), it is made with a cheaper cut of meat albeit not a lower quality one, it is the family friendly version (meaning meat is already off the bone and the dish is ready to serve the kids without any extra prep)
Here is what you need
3-4 tbsps Olive Oil (maybe 50 cents)
6-8 boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs, sliced into strips and salt and peppered ($15)
2 796 ml cans of Plum Tomatoes, one entire can and one drained of its liquid. (I used 2 jars of my own canned tomatoes. My end cost on these is about $1 each)
2 med Sweet Peppers, diced (I have been buying the local which are in season, approx $1.50)
1 lg Yellow Onion, diced (I always buy organic onions (google Dirty Dozen) so they are pretty pricey compared to regular $1.50)
4 cloves of Garlic (50 cents-ish)
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme (maybe 5 cents)
3 cups White or Brown Basmati Rice (I try to get brands of rice that I know don't use a GMO'd grain. I like Lundburg brand a lot but can only afford their non-organic on sale and their organic is out of the question. If using Lundburg $3.00, Organic Bulk $2.50 or regular, probably less than $1
7 cups Chicken Stock or Water (I prefer rice cooked in stock and because I will only use organic chicken anything this can be pretty pricey so I do a half and half thing. I used one 900 mL tetra pack of stock ($1.50)and topped up my liquid with water)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Cayenne optional
In a large pan over medium high heat saute the onions and peppers in 2 tbsps of the olive oil. Just as they soften add the garlic being careful no to let it burn. Once soft remove from pan. Add the remainder of the oil and add the chicken. Let the chicken sear and brown a little. This will save it from falling apart when the liquid is added in later. Once all the chicken has changed colour but without letting it cook through, add back in the onions, peppers and garlic and 1 cup of the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and add the tomatoes and thyme. From here let it simmer until the rice is ready.
First rinse rice well with cold water. Rice should always be washed before cooking. This washes away any non food, small rocks, dirt and starch. Wash until the water is relatively clear. I use a rice steamer so I can just add the rice and liquid (in this case 3 cups of rice, the remainder of the chicken stock, which was just less than 3 cups and 3 cups of water) and turn it on. If you are using a pot there is a great trick to perfect rice. Start the same with the rice and liquid in the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat down as low as your burner will go. Make a tight seal with a piece of tin foil between your pot and the lid. Leave it like this for 20 minutes then turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and very carefully remove the tin foil and fluff rice with a fork.
Serve some rice topped with Chicken Cacciatore.
Now this fed 6 people very well.....for $25.00. This could have been dinner twice or a lunch and a dinner for our family of 4. A full organic/local/whole foods meal for $12.50