I can't remember a time when I didn't know Marcella Hazan's name. Growing up, my father referenced her cookbooks frequently and Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned- a gift from my mother. When I heard she had passed away last week, I pulled Essentials down from my shelf and started flipping through it. It's a wonderful book- direct and no-nonsense. In following the recipes, simple, high quality ingredients are transformed into nuanced, delicious meals in a way that feels borderline magical- see Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce.
Chicken Cacciatora, New Version
3 lb chicken cut into pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion sliced very thin
2 cloves of garlic, sliced very thin
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups fresh, ripe tomatoes skinned raw with a peeler
Wash the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Place a saute pan with a lid or dutch oven large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces without touching over medium heat and add the oil and onions. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent then add the garlic and chicken pieces, skin side down. Cook until skin is golden brown then flip to the other side and repeat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add wine and let simmer until half has evaporated then add the tomatoes, turning down the heat to allow a low simmer. Remove the chicken breasts and set aside, leaving only the dark meat in the pan. Put on the lid, leaving it slightly askew and cook for 40 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally and adding a few tablespoons of water if the liquid in the pan gets low. After 40 minutes, add the chicken breasts back to the pan and cook for another 15 minutes.