Forever Nigella: Ciao Italia!

Here we are for the third installment of Forever Nigella, and it’s all about Nigella’s Italian dishes! (Which, coincidentally, is her favorite fare to prepare. At least, that’s what she said at a reception I attended.) Like before, I made this month’s selection alongside my surgical oncologist friend (Codename: Candelabra). Luckily, she and I were able to squeeze this in a day before the deadline because Candelabra had Saturday off!

Knowing that an Italian theme might bring forth a multitude of pasta dishes and desserts, we went in a different direction. After looking at our cookbooks and Nigella.com, we decided to make a variation of chicken cacciatore from the site’s quick and easy chicken cacciatore recipe while adding in cannellini beans from her pollo alla cacciatora recipe in Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast.

Candelabra's dish

To keep the cooking experience “authentic”, we decided to make and buy the ingredients for the chicken cacciatore at the same time. Although we’re both extremely intelligent and capable individuals, when it comes to food shopping, we always end up having several discussions about which ingredient to buy. For instance, my list said “canned tomato”, but I knew the recipe said something more specific. Did I need diced or whole? Hence, phone call #1. Candelabra: “The recipe says canned whole plum tomatoes.” Me: “None of the cans say plum.” Candelabra: “It doesn’t matter. Those are usually whole plum tomatoes in there.”

Would it matter whether grape or cherry tomatoes were used? Call #2. Candelabra: “I bought grape because the cherry ones didn’t look good.” Me: “Oh, I bought cherry because it looked like the grape container had more, and I can’t see myself eating the leftovers at any other time.”

What about cannellini beans? I’ve never eaten them before and wasn’t sure if I’d like them. Call #3. Candelabra: “Cannellini beans are white kidney beans.” Me: “Oh, well I like light kidney beans in chili, so these should be okay.”

Finally, there was an issue whether to include pancetta in the cacciatore. Call #4. Candelabra: “I can get infinite quantities of fat back and salt pork, but Kroger does not carry pancetta.” Me: “Oh, okay. Dominicks only has strips of pancetta, and I think I need a slab version to cut into cubes.” Therefore, neither of our dishes contained pancetta.

See how this worked? We’re pretty ridiculous. Additionally, when we made the dish Saturday evening, we had each other on speaker phone! Ha! We kept updating which step we were on like, “I’m browning my second batch of chicken now!” or “I’m opening the can of tomatoes now!”

The dish itself turned out rather tasty! The rosemary smell was strong, but the flavor was more subtle. Candelabra really didn’t care for the rosemary and chalked it up to her being “too Filipino”. (My participation in ffwD has made me a bit more amenable to the herb!) The cannellini beans were added at the beginning of the 20 minute simmering time, and the beans really did add a nice taste and texture to the dish. The book recipe suggests adding 1 tsp. of sugar to the sauce, which I liked a lot because it took the tart edge off the tomatoes. I enjoyed the dish so much that I ate two bowls!

Candelabra's dish

To see this month’s round-up of “Ciao Italia!” Nigella recipes, head over to Forever Nigella! Or, better yet, join in the fun for next month!

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35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Clarkie @ Beloved Green
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 00:28:46

    I love how Nigella’s cookbook is in the background of all these shots :-) I am pretty much a fan of most Italian dishes, and add tomatoes and I’m in heaven.

  2. Jessica
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 00:57:26

    I like the conversation between you and Candelabra. I also like how you used sugar to make the tomato part to be less tart.

  3. Cakelaw
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 02:48:55

    This looks delicious!

  4. sanyaliving
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 04:52:49

    Too funny!
    Your dishes look great!

  5. Three-Cookies
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 06:33:08

    Interesting conversations:) And most important, the end result was tasty.

  6. Mary
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 10:01:24

    This really looks good and sounds delicious. I’ve never used beans in my cacciatore so I find the addition interesting and want to see why she did that. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  7. Mary
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 11:43:04

    Your grocery shopping and cooking exploits are hilarious! I haven’t had chicken cacciatore in years, so I’m tempted to try this.

  8. KY
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 12:23:19

    Great post! Both dishes look yummy and I’m glad you and your friend had fun making it ‘together’!

  9. Ronda
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 14:49:57

    Cooking with your friend sounds like a lot of fun. It all looks tasty!

  10. sonia
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 14:55:21

    This is looking absolutely delightful. Very nicely made and presented….thnks !

  11. Ryan
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 18:00:05

    How fun! That’s great that you have a cooking buddy to try out new recipes with. I loved your commentary and all of the phone calls! Sounds like it was a blast of an evening. The recipe sounds delicious and looks like both dishes were a resounding success!

  12. NN
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 18:08:19

    And…. I’m back in the hospital!!

    Now, I don’t do a lot of cooking with rosemary (read: zero) but it wasn’t bad. It added a nice, bright flavor to the dish. I think I just didn’t expect it to taste that way, given how it looked (not cool to stereotype food). But I guess that is what this is all about anyway. Thanks for posting this.

    Uh oh… getting hungry again….

  13. Liz
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 19:32:35

    What a fun time for you and Candelabra! I’d love to cook along with a friend on speaker phone. I love Nigella’s desserts, so I have a feeling from the look of your dishes, I’d love this as well~

  14. Angela
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 19:53:45

    Looks wonderful. I loved the story behind finding the ingredients:)

  15. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 22:56:34

    It’s so much fun to cook with a friend, even if it’s long distance! It sounds like the two of you had a great time and made some delicious food! :)

  16. Kankana
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 01:44:37

    I am a huge fan of Nigella … the way she enjoys cooking and the way she explains cooking, it automatically builds your appetite :)

  17. Sarah, Maison Cupcake
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 03:28:14

    I like how you were on speaker phone to liaise with Candleabra, that’s really funny! Thank you both for submitting this comforting dish to Forever Nigella 3, Ciao!

  18. Jay
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 06:57:33

    wonderful post…nice clicks dear..
    Tasty Appetite

  19. Cher
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 07:42:12

    Too funny. How great that the two of you can do this together! The beans are an interesting addition to the cacciatore…

  20. Spike
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 07:49:09

    both versions looking awesome, I’d eat of a bowl of each!

  21. akila
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 08:39:29

    simply superb…
    Dish Name Starts with G
    Learning-to-cook
    Regards,
    Akila

  22. Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 10:32:24

    They both look fabulous!!!!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  23. Kathy
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 15:49:41

    This looked so good, I’m making it for dinner tonight!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  24. Angela
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 19:09:07

    I am trying to decide what to bake for a competition and would really appreciate your vote if you don’t mind stopping by my blog again:)

  25. Elaine
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 22:03:33

    It is so much more fun baking or cooking with someone else even via phone or computer. You both did a great job on your Nigella challenge.

  26. chunklet's mom
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 23:03:04

    Your banter with Candelabra is ridiculous :). Both of the dishes look delicious! I don’t care too much for rosemary either :-p

  27. Laural (bhealthier)
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 11:20:50

    Omg, I loved reading this post! You are too funny! Chicken cacciatore is one of my favorites t make, ill have to check her recipe! Looks fab

  28. Cakewhiz
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 16:22:19

    That was a fun post to read :)
    And your dish looks excellent!

  29. erica@fashionmeetsfood
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 16:27:17

    Your dishes look absolutely fabulous! I want to come eat at your house!

    xo

  30. kitchenarian
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 17:17:03

    I don’t think I have Nigella cookbooks – that could be a problem. This looks like such great Italian comfort food. I love it!

  31. Betsy
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 20:09:54

    I was laughing when you described cooking with your friend over the speakerphone! This sound great! I have a couple of Nigella books that I forget to use, so thanks for the encouragement. Might even join the Street Party for May.

  32. Trackback: Other Bloggers’ Food « Yummy Chunklet
  33. Louise
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 07:43:40

    What a hilarious escapade! So much fun:) I’ve never cooked any of Nigella’s recipes. I have made chicken cacciatore many times and never included rosemary or the beans. I think the beans are a GREAT idea. I absolutely adore rosemary however, I’m not sure I would like it in this dish either. Oregano maybe, rosemary, I’d be willing to try carefully:)

    Your dish looks hearty and tasty and that’s all that really matters!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing, yummy…

  34. Christina
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 18:09:47

    I love Nigella too! Those dishes look wonderful and the experience sounds like fun!

  35. Trackback: Forever Nigella 3 "Ciao Italia" round up | maisoncupcake.com
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