My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Sultry Oven-Roasted Cacciatore with Bacon 3

Posted on February 20, 2010 by crankycheryl

[Update 3/3/10 – this was featured in some extremely delicious company on Photograzing.  Cool!]

I love Lynne Rosetto Kasper, and was happy for her emailed recipe for an oven-roasted chicken cacciatore this week.

But when it was finally time to make it, and I started grabbing things from the freezer and fridge, there were all sorts of things  to use up,.  So dinner evolved into a roasted hybrid of Chicken Cacciatore and Puttanesca ingredients.  Based on dishes named for hunters and prostitutes, I restrained myself from coming up with a much racier name.  Still, this is  a pretty shamelessly seductive dish.

In the foreground, that’s slab bacon (from the wonderful Boucher Family Farm, by the way).  Look at that glisten!  More Vermont goodness made this whole dish shine: Misty Knoll chickenIntervale tomatoes and potatoes, that outrageous bacon.  It’s so nice that mid-winter local doesn’t have to mean root vegetables at every meal.

Sultry Oven-Roasted Chicken Cacciatore with Bacon & Polenta
Serves 4-6

Preheat oven to 400.

Lightly oil 2 rimmed baking sheets.

Place on the sheets:

  • 8 chicken thighs, skin side up
  • 6 large tomatoes (fresh or frozen), cut into quarters
  • 1/4 lb. slab bacon, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 lb. crimini or baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1/2 c. oil-cured olives, pitted
  • If you have them around, you could toss in some quartered potatoes, large-dice green peppers, or unpeeled garlic cloves.
  • Salt on the chicken (the fat & juices from the bacon will salt everything else)

Roast for 30 – 35 minutes (start the polenta after you get the chicken going), rotating the trays after 15 minutes unless you can fit them on the same rack.  The chicken is done when its skin is crisp and golden and its juices run clear.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop the chicken and vegetables into a bowl.  Toss in:

  • 2 T. capers, drained


Bring to a boil:

  • 3 c. water
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. olive oil

Mix together until free of lumps:

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. cornmeal

When water in pan is at a full boil, pour in the water-corn mixture slowly, stirring constantly and thoroughly.  But watch this – now you don’t have to stir it constantly!  Turn the heat down to very low, give a few firm stirs and let cook gently with no lid for 25 minutes or until done (it will be very thick and will not taste granular or at all raw if you give it a try).

Top with the chicken mixture and serve.

Tamales Two Ways 3

Posted on January 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

Why you might like to make your own tamales:

  • You can put any filling you want in them.
  • They’re gluten-free.
  • You can find masa harina and corn husks at most grocery stores or food stores now, if you’re not lucky enough to live near Mexican markets.
  • They can be vegetarian if you substitute some shortening (organic, non-hydrogenated, palm oil variety if you please) for the lard.
  • Alternately, they can be a mad-cap excuse to cook with lard.  When’s the last time you got to do that?  (Here’s what the inimitable Zarela Martinez has to say about lard; and other experts quoted on the subject.)
  • A hand-held beater or stand-mixer make the prep nearly effortless.
  • They’re so damn good.

Last night we had two gluten-free friends and a vegetarian friend over for dinner.  I whined a little bit about having to come up with a menu to accommodate everyone, but I remembered the masa harina in the back of the cupboard, came across a couple of frozen smoked pork chops from Boucher Family Farm,  and off we went.

Green Chile & Cheese Tamales plus Pork & Green Chile Tamales
Adapted from Zarela Martinez
Makes about 24

  • 5 c. masa harina (Want GMO-free masa?  Try Bob’s Red Mill.)
  • 3 – 4 c. warm chicken or vegetarian broth
  • 1 lb. lard or organic, non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1 1/2 T. kosher salt
  • 25-28 dried corn husks, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes-1 hr.
  • 2 c. chopped mild green chiles, divided
  • 1 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 c. leftover pork chops, cooked & cooled thick-cut bacon, or any leftover meat
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 T. flavorful salsa
  • 1/2 t. chipotle or chili powder
  1. Place masa in a large bowl.  With a wooden spoon, beat in just enough broth to make a smooth dough, about as soft  and pliable as bread dough.
  2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer, or in a separate large bowl, beat the lard or shortening until very, very light, about 3 minutes.  With the mixer still on, beat in the masa a large scoop at a time, scraping down the sides as necessary.   If the mixture becomes too stiff, slowly add in a bit  more broth.  Beat until mixture resembles a fluffy frosting.  Beat in salt.
  3. Mix together 1 c. chiles and cheese in one medium bowl.
  4. Mix together remaining chiles, pork, garlic, salsa, and chili in a separate medium bowl.
  5. Remove corn husks from water.  Find smaller ones and tear about 24 wide strips, which you’ll use to tie the tamales shut.
  6. Place in front of you with narrower side facing you.  Place approximately 1/4 c. masa lengthwise inside the husk, flattened slightly.  Put rounded tablespoon of filling lengthwise across middle and press in with back of spoon.  Fold the top and bottom ends (those closest to and farthest from you) in.  Fold in the sides, making sure you completely wrap the filling.  If you need to take a piece off another one to cover any openings, that’s okay.  Tie a strip around the middle to keep shut.  Repeat for all, keeping meat and vegetarian separate if it matters to you.
  7. Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer, or a pot into which you can fit a steamer insert.  Place tamales in steamer, and cook for about an hour, until the masa is firm to the touch.  (I always have to open one to be sure.)  Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve.

You don’t need to have much else with these.  We had some beer and a salad with romaine, slivered mango, red onion, and spicy pumpkin seeds with a simple vinaigrette.  Perfect.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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