I grew up mostly on my Mothers cooking, a few of my Dad’s specialties, handmade hot tortillas from our neighbor Rosa, and of course my Grandmothers fine fair when I got to visit her. It was a predictable but well fed childhood no doubt, that was, until I started eating at my friends houses. That changed everything.
When venturing out beyond the comfort of your own dinner table things can get interesting to a young fella’s adolescent taste buds. Everyone’s house has a unique smell to it. You don’t notice your own’s until you’ve been gone from home for a few days and come back. For the first few seconds past the front door the smell surprises you until your brain catches up to your nose and you stop noticing it. Much of a home’s signature aroma comes from what goes on in the kitchen. The kitchen, naturally, is where this week’s recipe started, not a my house , however, but at my friend Chris’s.
As I write this post I can still see the steam rising out the pan as the sweet smell of bell peppers filled the kitchen while Chris’s dad Louie explained to me what chicken cacciatore was. Up to that point I don’t know if my 10 year old belly had even seen a bell pepper let alone one smothered in red sauce with chicken served over a pillow of white rice. Eating that meal was like kissing a girl for the first time, it opened up my world to a whole new land of excitement and pleasure.
I’m always trying out new ways to cook things. Yes, tradition is important but that doesn’t mean a little bit of this and a few shakes of that can’t make it better. As always play around with this recipe because cooking is meant to be fun. Or just follow along verbatim and enjoy the smells and taste of these perfectly blended flavors.
- 8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 large carrot (small dice)
- 1 large rib celery (small dice)
- 1 green and 1 red or orange bell pepper (seeded and sliced thin)
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups sliced zucchini
- 6-8 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- 16oz marinara sauce
- 4 Tbsp. avocado oil
- Salt and black pepper
- Red pepper flakes if you want a little heat
- Large frying pan with lid
- 4 cups Prepared rice
- Tip – To save time have your veggies prepped already or prep them in stages while things are cooking in the pan
- Salt the chicken
- Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in frying pan on medium heat and brown the chicken on both sides until cooked through. About 7 minutes on each side
- Pull the chicken off the heat and rest on a large plate
- Leave the juices and brown bits in the pan
- Add the onions to the pan and stir frequently until they start to get translucent about 3-4 minutes
- Then add the carrot and celery to the pan
- Add 1 Tbsp. oil and a few pinches of salt to the pan and cook stirring frequently for 5 minutes
- Add bell peppers to the pan and cook while stirring for 5 more minutes
- At this point add a bit of water to the pan to deglaze the proteins and sugars (flavor) that have started to stick on the bottom of the pan
- Add the mushrooms, 1 more Tbsp. oil and another pinch of salt then cook while stirring a few times for 3-5 minutes
- Add the zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer while stirring a few times
- Add cracked black pepper to your taste, and if you like, some red pepper flakes
- Now add the garlic and stir to mix
- Cook for 1 minute
- Stir in the marinara sauce and taste for seasoning. Add salt if needed. Turn heat down to medium low then place the chicken back in the pan pushing them down into the sauce. Cover and cook for 10 minutes
- Flip over the chicken then cover and cook for 5 minutes longer
- Uncover and do a final taste for seasoning. Salt if needed
- Serve over prepared rice and enjoy!