Despite the stresses of life lately, this week was a good week. I was able to catch up with a friend in NYC. Another friend is visiting from China and staying with us for two weeks, while he completes his research. And yesterday, we attended a colleague's wedding, which was followed by a small cake reception. After the morning ceremony, we had friends over for makeshift mango mimosas, which we served on our terrace. We spent a few hours chatting, the wind blowing, the sun burning bright. Days like that -- those filled with ease and laughter and simple pleasures-- are glorious, no?
One of the simple pleasures I liked to indulge in frequently is eating freshly baked, crusty baguette from one of the local bakeries. In fact, I spent a good part of my first months in Cambodia on a motorbike with fresh baguette in hand. And over two years later, that has not changed. On lazy nights, when we aren't terribly hungry, we'll snack on baguette, a soft rind French cheese, and fruit for dinner.
A few weeks ago, I came across this simple recipe from Rachel Eats. Pancetta, white wine, slowly simmered with tomatoes, slivers of red peppers, and chicken - what's not to love? Slow cooking is so wonderful because there's this point when everything just magically melts together perfectly. It's alchemy.
Pollo alla Romana
Adapted from this recipe by Rachel Eats
A nice plump chicken weighing about 1.5 kg (or 3-4 chicken breasts)
3 tbsp olive oil
50g pancetta, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic
a glass of dry white wine
300 g tomatoes
3 large red peppers
1-2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
Clean the chicken and cut it into pieces.
In a large heavy based pan, fry the diced pancetta in the olive oil until it renders its fat. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and cook until the skin forms a golden crust, then turn them and fry the other side.
Add salt, several grindings of black pepper and the garlic and turn the pieces over three or four times. Add the wine and let it bubble away until most of it has evaporated. [Note: At this point, your kitchen will smell amazing!]
Coarsely chop the tomatoes and the red peppers. Add the tomatoes and the peppers to the pan, stir, cover the pan and leave over a over a modest heat. Add the bay leaves. Stir every now and then to prevent sticking. Once the peppers release their juices, half cover the pan and cook for another 45 minutes or until the tomatoes and peppers have collapsed into a dense, rich sauce and the chicken is tender.
Allow the pan to sit for about 15 minutes.