ok folks, valentines day is almost at hand. we all know the ol’ this is a farce of a holiday made up by the folks at hallmark business. but i would wager to say that they were not the first, nor will they be the last to use sex and/or love as a marketing tool to make money. ya know why? because we buy it. always have, always will. and i have no problem with that. why, even the conquistadors in marketing their newly-found love apples (tomatoes) from the aztecs used this ploy to sell them to the europeans. in italy, they renamed them poma amoris; in france, pommes d’amour. suddenly, they were a hit. no one begrudges tomatoes for this, do they? nope, these aphrodisiacs became the most famous and widely-consumed fruit (yes, fruit) in the world.
the keys to this dish are good quality fresh or canned love apples (pommes d’amour, poma amoris, or tomatoes, if you will ) and olives. don’t even bother making it without these. this dish is rather a conundrum for me at times. it’s best made when tomatoes are at their peak, but here in austin that occurs in july and september and i just really don’t want something simmering away on the stove for an hour when it’s hot as blazes, ya know? so i choose to make it in winter and either purchase a nice tin of good quality tomatoes or, if i plan ahead, i can or freeze some beautiful garden tomatoes for just this purpose. i prefer a decent pitted greek kalamata for the olive, but a nice dark, oil-cured one woud also do the trick. they need to be dark, salty, with a nice bite on the finish. and don’t be skimpy with the olives. the dish should offer them up freely with every bite.
chicken fricassee with pommes d’amour (serves 4)
adapted from cooking light
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 whole cut-up chicken (chicken breasts cut in half so pieces are approximately the same size) or 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into large pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
12 garlic cloves, finely sliced or chopped (yes, 12 – don’t worry, they will poach in the liquid and everything will be ok)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine plus more for the cook
1 1/2 cups diced tomato (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup pitted olives, kalamata or oil-cured, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
cooked rice, polenta, or couscous for serving
place flour in shallow dish and dredge chicken pieces. heat olive oil in a large saute pan or dutch oven, and brown chicken on all sides, working in several batches if needed. remove chicken from pan. reduce heat and add garlic to pan and saute for 1 minutes, attempting not to brown. stir in the wine scraping all the good brown bits from the bottom as you go (guess what? you are deglazing!). add tomato through pepper and stir well. return chicken to pan and nestle pieces within sauce. cover, reduce to heat, and simmer 45-minutes to an hour. once the chicken is tender and starts falling off the bone, you know it’s done. serve over rice, polenta or couscous to catch all the love sauce!
check out these other aphrodisiacs to get you in the mood: