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La Bontá di Fiesole

La Bontà di Fiesole extra virgin olive oil is a pleasure almost any way you use it, but here below are some recipes that Spencer and I are particularly fond of.  We’ll list more recipes from time to time.

Pollo alla cacciatore (Chicken Cacciatore)

Cacciatore (i.e. hunter’s style) is a method of cooking various types of game–most often poultry–that features olive oil, tomatoes, and olives, but the Italian dishes that go by this name bear little resemblance to the heavy-handed red sauce preparations called cacciatore in the States.  Italians would probably use arborio rice for this recipe, but it’s not a risotto and regular rice will do fine.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken legs, one per person
  • Italian plum tomatoes (canned is OK), two per person
  • Spanish onion, peeled and cut into fairly thick slices, one slice per person
  • Oil cured black olives (available in the foreign food section of most supermarkets), four per person
  • Whole garlic cloves, large, three per person
  • Bay leaves
  • Red wine (just a splash and optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (you know which one)
  • Rice (either arborio or long-grained; about a third of a cup per person, depending on appetite)

Instructions:

Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper.  Liberally cover the bottom of a deep oven-proof pot (enameled cast iron is perfect) with olive oil and then brown the chicken legs in it skin side down on top of the stove.  When the legs are golden brown, turn them skin side up and turn off the stove.  Add a bay leaf for every leg you are cooking; add the garlic gloves (unpeeled) and olives (unpitted); and add a splash of red wine if you choose.  Place the onion slices on top of the chicken legs and the plum tomatoes on top of the onions and sprinkle the tomatoes with a little more salt.  Cover and cook in a 350° oven for 1 hour, basting at the half hour mark.  While the chicken is in the oven, cook the rice separately following the instructions on the package.  Serve your pollo alla cacciatore with the rice placed in center of each plate,  a chicken leg on one side of it, and the onions, tomatoes, garlic cloves and olives arranged on the other.  Add some of the olive oil from the pot over all of it and enjoy.


Fagioili all’ucelletto con pomodori e salvia (Cannellini Beans with Tomatoes and Sage)

Tuscans call this recipe for cannellini beans all’ucelletto because the manner of cooking is similar to that once used for “ucelletti,” i.e. “little birds.”  These beans are very popular in central and southern Italy either as a side dish or as the principal component of a meal.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1/2 hour

Ingredients:

  • Cannellini beans (canned work better than dried), one can for every two people
  • Whole fresh sage leaves, medium sized, at least five per person.
  • Coarsely chopped tomatoes (fresh if truly ripe, otherwise canned), one large or two small per person
  • Coarsely chopped garlic, one large clove per person
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Wash the cannellini beans in a strainer and set aside.  Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a coating of olive oil, add the chopped garlic and sage leaves, and heat over a medium flame.  When the garlic has just begun to color, turn down the flame to low, add the beans and the tomatoes, and stir/toss the ingredients to mix them thoroughly.   Add salt to taste, cover the skillet, and cook over low heat for about ½ hour.   The beans are done when they are still whole but are softened enough that they are just at the point of breaking down into a paste.  Don’t overdo them, or the result will be mush.  Add fresh-cracked pepper to taste when the dish is done, but not before or the tomatoes may taste a little bitter.  Serve with a thread of olive oil drizzled over each portion.