Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chicken Cachengo

My family loves food. We love to cook and we love to spend time together in the kitchen. At home my sister and I often spend our Sunday afternoons trying something new in the kitchen. My boys (now 8 and 10) are able sous-chefs, handy with a sharp knife for chopping, capable of whisking, blending, beating, stirring, and tasting. Family holidays often center in and around the kitchen. A glass of wine in hand and a story to tell, my father never tires of pulling a meal together, whether for 4 or 14. My mother sails in, particularly in times of trouble, quick to make a pot roast and some homemade applesauce (recipes to follow). My grandmother could out-cook folks a quarter of her age. We’d be in our sixth hour of making jam or baking cookies, ant the rest of us were slumped on one chair or another and my grandmother would still be standing, not a word of complaint.

This blog is loosely based on a family cookbook I edited and photographed two years ago. The cookbook, “Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen,” brought together recipes that we, as a family, have made again and again over the years. Some are festive holiday foods and others are simple fare suitable for a busy weeknight with homework to do and instruments to practice.

The first two recipes I’m going to post are variations on a theme. My father makes a dish in the wintertime we call “Chicken Cachengo” which is a humorous name that combines Chicken Cacciatore with Chicken Morengo. He was inspired to create this dish one year when we were skiing in Deer Valley and he needed something to warm our insides and fuel us for the next day’s skiing. This dish does just the trick, and we’ve been making it ever since. This makes a great party meal. All of the work can be done in advance. It can even be made the day before and reheated on the stovetop (NOT the microwave – puh-lease) and then served. The second recipe I’m going to post is my version of the same dish. Both of them feed a crowd, prep well in advance, and taste even better on the second day.

Chicken Cachengo (10 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  • 2 whole chickens cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 20 ounces cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 35-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted Kalamata olives
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish

Heat grapeseed oil in large skillet. Generously salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Brown chicken pieces in skillet over medium high heat until skin is slightly golden, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Drain off all but ¼ cup pan drippings.

Sauté onions, shallots and red pepper flakes over medium high heat until golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Add white wine to onion/shallot mixture; cook 2 minutes.

Add bell pepper, carrots, and celery; sauté 2 more minutes.

Add chicken back to pot. Add chicken broth; turn up heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Break up Italian tomatoes in the can and then add them plus their juices, the olives, tomato sauce, tomato paste, mushrooms, thyme, Herbs de Provence and sugar. Simmer one hour. While the chicken is cooking skim off the fat. Taste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve in low bowl over crusty bread. Sprinkle with flat leaf parsley to garnish.

Chicken and Sausage Stew (6-8 servings)

  • 2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, cut into rounds (I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian sausage)
  • 6 large chicken thighs (my children like them boneless) or 1 whole chicken, cut up
  • 3 cups onions, chopped
  • 3 cups red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh or dried oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 14½-oz can chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced
  • flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish

Sauté sausage in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer browned sausage to a large bowl. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon transfer chicken to bowl with sausage. Drain off all but ¼ cup pan drippings.

In the reserved pan drippings sauté onions and peppers until soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, and paprika. Sauté 2 minutes. Add flour and sauté 1 minute. Return sausage, chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add tomatoes with juices, chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. While chicken is cooking use a flat spoon to skim off the fat.

Uncover pot. Add olives and simmer until chicken is very tender and liquid is reduced, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in a low, flat bowl over a piece of toasted crusty country bread. Sprinkle with chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish.


  1. Welcome to the world of the food bloggers, Rachel! Just got together today with a group of LA food bloggers - next month we'll add your name to the list.

  2. I can't wait to be added to the list! Lucky me!