As far as food goes, I've been treading a well-worn path of late. Children of conservative tastes, last minute cooking of supper, rushing to do my weekly shop without having been anywhere near a recipe book, all conspire to put the same old meals on the table. Ones that I know some of my children will eat, at least in part, ones that can be rustled up in half an hour, from standard ingredients that can be found on the shelves of our local supermarket.
On Saturday I finally made time to look at a recipe book, determined to try at least one new recipe this week and find something slightly different to enliven my dulled palate.
Marcella Hazan provided it. Italian food has been on my mind, as my latest job is translating an Italian recipe book into English and converting the amounts from metric to imperial (a challenge when the writer even gives amounts in grams for parsley 5g).
I love Marcella's books, even more than Nigella's when it comes down to it. She has a tried and true purity to her cooking, a distilled essence of Italian food from her regional viewpoint. Most of her dishes have an elegant simplicity - just the right amount of everything to give subtle balanced flavour.
The recipe that thrilled me on Saturday night, was a simple chicken casserole cooked with vinegar and resulted in the tenderest chicken pieces I've ever cooked. The flavour was understated but sprightly and what is more the kids loved it. Youngest eating her second drumstick said "It's not different. It's the same" which I took as the highest of compliments from her. It was different enough to be refreshing for us and not so different as to freak out these connoisseurs of plain un-messed-with food.
Pollo con Aceto
Recipe for Italian chicken with vinegar
1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 flat anchovy fillets chopped finely
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons wine vinegar
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan. When it is hot but not smoking, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and fry over a medium heat till golden on all sides. Remove onto a warm plate and season with salt and pepper.
Combine the rosemary, garlic, and chopped anchovies.
In a casserole with a lid, which will take all the chicken pieces in one layer, put the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the rosemary mixture and cook stirring for a brief minute. Add the chicken to the pan and turn the pieces to coat then add the vinegar. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the vinegar fumes dissipate the turn the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook for about 1 hour, turning the chicken now and again, until the chicken feels tender when pricked with a fork. you can add a few tablespoons of water if there is not enough liquid left in the pan towards the end of cooking. Serve as soon as it is cooked.
We are this with mashed potato and green beans which went perfectly with it. Unglamorous and delicious.