As a kid growing up we often ate with my grandparents. This was not that big a deal considering they lived in a downstairs apartment from us. My grandparents loved seafood and ate it often. As my sister and I got older and begged my parents for something besides linguini and white clam sauce or breaded cod fillets, we got away from sharing many meals. I guess we didn’t realize at the time how good we had it.
This was not the case on Thursdays. My father worked in retail and always on Thursday evenings. Mom would prepare him a dinner and I would run it over to him on my bike. Thursdays were a non-fish night so without a doubt we ate with the grand folks.
Grandma always made something special and for sure it was a favorite of either me or my sister. I can remember Eggplant Rollatini, Tagliarini and Grilled Asparagus, Cavatelli with Peas and Ricotta or my favorite Chicken Cacciatore. I never truly realized how special her Thursday night meals were and sort of took them for granted. My grandmother did have one steadfast rule however, “No phone calls between 6 and 7 PM.”
You see, for many years we shared a phone with my grandparents, and as my sister and I were getting older we got a lot of calls. Around this time my grandmother had a habit for playing the numbers. Back when I was a kid this was illegal as States did not hold lotteries. If you played the numbers it was through a bookie.
I’m not exactly sure how the number was figured, but I do recall it had something to do with how the horses ran at the track (either Belmont or Aqueduct) that day. By 6PM the races were over and the 3 digit number was out. If the phone rang at that time grandma felt it had to be the bookie telling her she hit. If it was one of my friends, I caught hell!
Here is a look at her quick Chicken Cacciatore:
1 ½ boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (try a mix of white and wild)
1 cup bell peppers, any color, sliced
1 cup onions, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup dry red wine
½ cup olive oil
1½ cups tomato sauce
salt and pepper
Rub one tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper into chicken and let sit for 5 minutes. Heat remaining olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and add chicken. Sauté until chicken is browned.
Add peppers, onions and mushrooms to skillet; sauté one minute. Add herbs and wine, plus salt and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to high and cook until the wine is nearly gone and the vegetables are tender. Add the tomato sauce (we called it gravy) and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes under a low flame.
I am not much of a merlot fan, but a good full bodied merlot from Tuscany or Umbria will pair perfectly with this dish. Enjoy!