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A little home-cooked Jersey style Italian

For those of you who know me well, it’s not new information that my man is in Jersey Boys in Las Vegas. The show just finished their run at The Palazzo Theatre and are now moving over to The Paris. With a brand new opening next week, Las Vegas Magazine has featured the show’s new beginning.

LAS VEGAS — In case you were worried, Jersey Boys isn’t going anywhere. Or rather, the musical extravaganza about the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is going somewhere, but it sure isn’t leaving town or shutting down. It’s just traveling a little way down Las Vegas Boulevard, from its previous home at The Palazzo over to the Paris, taking over the theater that previously housed the Barry Manilow show. As the Broadway boom in Vegas has wound down over the last few years, Jersey Boys has kept going strong, and it’s poised to be the last resident Vegas Broadway show standing in the near future.  Continue reading here.

For those of you who have not seen Jersey Boys, I seriously recommend you do, whether in New York, Vegas, London or the other dozen cities it visits every year on tour. It’s a great show, with lots of energy, laughs and plenty of “Jersey language.” If you don’t think you know The Four Season’s songs, I assure you that you do… Sherry Baby anyone?

Because Jersey Boys has an Italian-American flare to it, I thought I’d give a shout out to them with my recipe for:

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You – Chicken Cacciatore 

What You’ll Need:

  • chicken thighs (boneless) and legs *thighs will shrink down so plan on 2 thighs and 1 leg per person
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 2 cups of chopped onion, carrots and celery “Mirepoix” . *Trader Joe’s sells this already chopped and ready to go
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 shallot chopped (optional but has great flavor)
  • 2 small zucchini chopped into rounds
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes *I recommend canned because they will have a lot of juice to add and it’s simple
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup flour

Ready, Set, Cook:

Note: This recipe can also be adapted for a slow cooker. I suggest chopping your vegetables before beginning as it will help the process to run more smoothly  If you’d like to add more vegetables to your mixture such as mushrooms, sliced peppers, squash, or eggplant, chop these to a bite size (approx 1-2″) and add them at the same time as the zucchini and diced tomatoes. Really anything goes with rustic Italian food! ;)

Okay! To start, take each piece of chicken and lightly dredge it in the flour. Covering each side of the chicken lightly. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, pour a small amount of oil into the pot and begin to sauté the mirepoix and shallot under a Medium heat, while stirring occasionally.

In a frying pan, pour a small amount of olive oil into the pan and begin to brown chicken on both sides in batches. All you need is a light sear on each side as the chicken will cook completely in the sauce. Remember to alternate stirring your mirepoix and shallots mixture, while browning your chicken. Multi-task, or have a helper. *If you don’t have a helper you can sauté the mirepoix, turn the heat to low and then brown your chicken. 

Once chicken has been browned remove it from the frying pan and place it atop the mirepoix mixture in the pot. Remove the frying pan from the stove. Pour canned tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs and garlic into the pot. Then pour the entire quart of chicken stock and cup of red wine and tomato paste into the pot. Chicken should be fully submerged. Season with salt and pepper, bring liquid up to a bubble, then cover it, turn the heat on Low and let it gently simmer for about 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, chicken should be fork tender and falling off the bone. Remove chicken pieces from the pot and place them on a plate. Turn heat on High and stir frequently allow the sauce to reduce down to a thick “stew-like” consistency. Your stirring spoon should be thickly coated when sauce is done.

Place chicken back into the sauce to serve, or serve chicken on plate and pour hot sauce over it. Serve over pasta, with bread, rice pilaf, or all by itself. Yum! Molto bene!

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