Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chicken Spaghetti

My mother made very few dishes well and this was one of them. Mind you, when this dinner came into rotation grocery stores were literally giving chicken wings away. Buffalo Chicken Wings weren't invented until the early sixties and they wouldn't come into vogue for years to come so back then chicken wings were probably the least desirable part of the chicken where I grew up. Now chicken wings are often the most expensive part of the chicken at the market and so I use legs and thighs if that's what's on sale. The meat isn't as sweet but it's still pretty good.

I have three different versions of this sauce, one is exactly how my mother made it, the other is how I make it when I have the ingredients on hand and the third is using raw or homemade ingredients only. Her version uses the pre-made spaghetti sauce only (poured over the browned chicken & simmered for hours) and is pretty good but I think the addition of canned tomatoes, chicken stock and garlic make it so much better. However you make it, this isn't a weeknight dish unless you have extra time on your hands simply because of the time involved in cooling and deboning the chicken that was cooked in the sauce.

1 flat of chicken wings (5-8 lbs is what they usually sell) or 4 chicken leg & 4 chicken thighs
20 cloves of peeled garlic
olive oil for browning
salt & pepper
1 4lb jar of spaghetti sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 C chicken stock
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

In a large stock pot combine the spaghetti sauce, the crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of the chicken stock. Set over medium heat while you prepare the chicken.

Wash the chicken parts, pat them dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken over medium-high heat in the olive oil, in batches removing the browned pieces to the stock pot. When all the chicken is browned, turn the heat down to medium and saute the garlic cloves until lightly browned (5-10 minutes.) Deglaze the pan with the remaining cup of chicken stock and add it to the stock pot. Stir to combine, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the chicken is cooked through and basically falling apart.

Remove the chicken sauce from the heat. Using tongs or whatever tool you find works best for you, remove the chicken pieces to a platter leaving as much of the sauce as you can in the pot. Allow the chicken to cool until it can be handled comfortably and then remove the skin and bones returning the meat to the pot. When all the chicken meat is back in the post, stir in the Parmesan cheese and simmer uncovered until the sauce is reduced by about 1/4 and has thickened up.

You can serve this over pasta but my favorite way to eat it is over mashed potatoes with a side of baby peas (that I prefer to make part of the potato mound.) It's a great meal and one of those feel good comfort foods that we all crave from time to time.


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