I really thought I’d mentioned this more recently, but I finally went to a cooking class!  It was last Tuesday night, and it was such a fun experience!

For some reason, when I have plans to do something like…well, something apart from my usual routine, despite usual lack of plans, I still freeze up and think of ways to get out of said plans.  Dumb.  Don’t know why.  (I’m leaning toward my being lazy).  Anyway, that night was no exception- and, add to that, the fact that E was late coming home to watch the kids (making me late for class), and…it was raining.  So, I wasn’t super-happy to leave the house.  Whatever- I made it out, fighting the wind that kept trying to turn my umbrella inside out, and made it there (1o mins late) with jeans that were wet up to my knees.  Yay.

The class was only about 6 other people, plus the two instructors, and immediately I felt that this was going to be a good experience.  The classroom was set up with a bunch of chairs at one end, and the other end held the kitchen, complete with mirror above the cook space to make seeing all that was happening easier.  But, we didn’t really need that- you immediately get to involved in the preparation, the chopping, cutting, shredding, that you’re up and actually doing the cooking that you can see all you want.

But, more on that in a sec- first, since our class was on chicken, Anna (the instructor) brought in another instructor, a butcher from one of the stalls in the Market.  His family has been in the meat business since 1900, and he was going to show us how to chop up a whole chicken.  Honestly, I think that if this chicken had been in my hands, it might have taken a bit longer than FIVE minutes (tops!) to carve it all up, but wow, he made it seem so easy!  And, he also made me realize that this is something I will never want to do!  Yikes!  I just don’t think I’m ready to actually visualize my food’s…joints.  Ugh.

Anyway, after the chicken demonstration, we got to work on the chopping and cutting.  We were preparing two dishes that night: chicken cacciatore and chicken marsala.  OMG, these recipes were so good!  But, while we were cooking, Anna and Charles (the chicken guy) would simply be cooking and talking, and this is where most of the valuable instruction took place.  This is the stuff I felt like I was missing- the sitting around the kitchen, cooking and talking, and learning.  For instance, did you know that the worst place to store garlic cloves is the fridge?  Alright, you probably did, but I didn’t!  And, when transferring things you just chopped from the cutting board to the pan/pot, never use the sharp side of the knife to move them- it dulls the knife.  Again, never knew that!

So, after the cooking, we got to try a pretty substantial portion of both of the dishes- SO good!  I felt stuffed, and happy, and so ready to try these two recipes out at home- and, since they were so delicious, I’ll copy them here for everyone else to try, too.  I’m already drooling at the thought of making cacciatore later this week! 🙂

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Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ pound sliced cremini mushrooms
  • ½ lb button mushrooms
  • ½ pound shitake mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup marsala
  • 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup flour

Preparation

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle on all sides with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and pepper.  Then place chicken if a bag with flower and shake til coated.  Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning over once, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Reduce heat to moderate and add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits, until onion and garlic are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine and simmer, scraping up brown bits, until liquid is reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add chicken stock and nestle chicken pieces in sauce.

Simmer, loosely covered with foil, until chicken is cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Serve over spaghetti or penne pasta!

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Chicken Marsala

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, each halved horizontally
  • All purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup imported dry Marsala
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup assorted mushrooms sliced

Preparation

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dust with flour; shake off excess. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté 1 minute. Add half of chicken. Sauté until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Repeat with remaining butter and chicken. Tent chicken with foil. Add Marsala, cream and broth to skillet; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add mushrooms and sauté about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; spoon over chicken.

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Enjoy!!

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