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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary

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Lunch Lady Chicken Cacciatore

Lunch Lady Chicken Cacciatore

Cooking

Hey there everyone! This is Michael Gillan Maxwell, the Lunch Laddy coming to you from La Trattoria della Lunch Lady to bring you a sizzling new recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today’s recipe is a spin-off from a venerable Italian country cooking classic ~ Chicken Cacciatore. Original cacciatore recipes descended from a hunter’s stew made from fresh game and fresh seasonal herbs and veggies. Rabbit, wild onion, carrots, tomatoes and herbs were often the foundation for this dish, which was cooked over an open fire. Fire roasted wild rabbit is not exactly a staple in most American public school cafeterias these days, but I think you will like this variation on that theme, and you won’t have to go traipsing through the under brush like Elmer Fudd chasing “that silly wabbit.” It’s also mindlessly simple. Big plus point.

Elmer Fudd Hunting

So ~ without further adieu ~ I present to you:

 Lunch Lady Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

1 16 oz. Can Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano

1 Spanish Onion – Sliced

2 Fresh Plum Tomatoes – Diced

1 Fresh Red Pepper

Parmesan Cheese

1 or 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – Minced

Basil ~ Fresh (If you got it) otherwise Freeze-dried will have to do, I suppose)

Garlic Powder

Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper ~ although one of my close friends is allergic

~ you know who you are ~ so I won’t be using black pepper if you are amongst my guests!

Preparation

  • Slice, dice, mince, shred, tear, bend, spindle and mutilate fresh veggies, herbs and cheese.
  • Drain liquid from canned tomatoes into casserole dish.
  • Lay chicken breasts in there all nice and cozy. Squeeze ‘em in there, snug as a bug in a rug.
  • Season liberally. Don’t mince words and don’t be shy with the minced garlic. How much is too much? There’s no such thing as too much. It should be enough to repel an attack by a vampire. (Or a blind date that’s going badly)
  • Lay in the sliced and diced onion and tomatoes.
  • Add the canned diced tomatoes, spread evenly.
  • If you’re using fresh basil, tear and sprinkle over mixture.
  • Top with freshly shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over pasta or rice. I used Tri-colored fusilli for it’s festive appearance.
  • Dracula Repulsed By Garlic

Music Pairing

Guitar freak that I am, the muse dictated that I create a “John Fahey” Pandora Station for this occasion.  John Fahey is an acoustic guitar god. He is kind of the grand daddy of acoustic guitar finger picking. The station features lush and pristine 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar solo playing from such masters as Leo Kottke, Norman Blake, Martin Simpson, Bert Jancsh and many others. There’s even some chicken pickin’ Tele playing from the late, great Roy Buchanan.

Steel Guitar

Beverage Pairing

Rioja

Cosme Palacio y Hermanos Rioja Reserva

To tell you the truth, I haven’t actually tasted this yet, but I have two bottles that are calling my name. It got a monster rating from Wine spectator, it’s very affordable, and looks and sounds totally munch-able. A good Spanish Rioja is hard to beat. My Spanish friends tell me you can drink a good  Rioja all day long. Sounds like that makes for an early night though. It goes down smooth and has an earthy quality, like a good French Rhone. As a friend of mine once said: “ A good Rhone should taste like dirt!” If that’s not a good selling point, I don’t know what is!

In closing, all that’s left to be said is Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!

Chicken Cacciatore

Introducing The Lunch Lady Cookbook Rock Stream Red Beans and Rice

Cooking

Lunch Lady Cookbook Introduction and Recipe I

Michael Maxwell here to introduce the newest category on Your Own Backyard. I am proud to present to you the first recipe in The Lunch Lady Cookbook. I am your host, The Lunch Laddy. 

Those of you who know me have heard me say that all good recipes should be built upon a solid foundation of bacon. While although I may have said that, I am no longer married to that rule, since all rules are made to be broken. However, suffice it to say, you may build any recipe you choose upon a solid foundation of bacon, but cheese or beer could be substituted just as easily. I feel it is incumbent on me to issue an advisory that not all of these recipes are for the faint of heart. In fact, many of them may need to be modified relative to your personal tastes or medical conditions, such as having only one artery left to clog. So please, adapt accordingly, drive safely and don’t go swimming for at least an hour after eating. (I think that is one of those old adages in the same category as catching pneumonia from getting your feet wet)

Also, although I am as carnivorous as Tyrannosaurus Rex, many of the recipes are vegetarian – as is the case with my first one – and if you choose not to top with cheese it is  (GASP!) Vegan! and so, without further adieu, I give you ~

Lunch Lady Rock Stream Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

1 Cup Brown Rice

2 Cups Water

1 16 oz Can Red Kidney Beans (no salt added)

2 Cups Chopped Red, Yellow and Orange peppers

1 Cup Finely Copped Red Spanish Onion

3 Green Onions

2-3 Cloves Garlic

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Freshly Ground Garlic Powder

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Red Pepper Flakes

Half Cup Shredded Cheddar

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Sour Cream

Combine rice and water, bring to boil, and simmer until done.

Lightly saute chopped veggies in olive oil. Add garlic last so it does not overcook.

Drain red beans. Combine rice, veggies and beans in 2 Qt Casserole.

Add seasonings to taste. Don’t go hog wild, but it’s gotta have some hair and teeth.

Cover with shredded cheddar. Bake at 350 in Covered Casserole for 45 minutes.

Serve with tortillas and top with healthy dollop of sour cream and salsa.

Suggested beer pairing ~ Great Lakes Brewery Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

(Because that’s what’s currently in my fridge)

Suggested Musical accompaniment ~ Live Musicians if you can afford them

otherwise  ~ Acoustic En Vivo  ~ Los Lobos ~ while cooking

Los Lobos ~ Acoustic En Vivo

~ Buena Vista Social Club ~ while eating

Buena Vista Social Club

Eat hearty Maties!

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