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.
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!
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!