This is my favorite stove top recipe to turn that tough old rooster with a lifetime of flavor into a tender delicious meal.
1 rooster, cut into pieces, skin can be removed or left on;
7 garlic cloves, smashed (or more, I usually use a full head);
1 teaspoon cinnamon;
1 teaspoon salt;
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper;
3 or more tablespoons olive oil or lard (or avocado oil if browning using high heat);
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or more);
2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar;
2 medium onions halved and thickly sliced;
3 1/2 cups water (or for more flavor, use no water but add 15 oz tomato sauce and 1-2 quarts of raw-pack home canned tomatoes, or high quality commercially canned tomatoes, including the flavorful fluid);
1/2 cup dry white wine (or vermouth or other liquor), (I use Marsala);
1 teaspoon sugar, or an additional 1-2 teaspoons more, if needed to balance acidity of tomatoes;
Any other vegetables that you'd like to add at the end, or any other ingredient that you'd like to use as a base to pour the sauce over (seen end of directions for suggestions).
Fresh toppings if desired (parsley, cilantro, mint, sour cream, Greek yogart, finely chopped onions, roasted garlic, sliced avocado, hummus, etc, whatever direction you want to take the flavor)
Pat chicken dry.
Mix together cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Mix together tomato paste and vinegar in another small bowl.
Using a very large skillet or soup pot, heat oil in pan.
Place chicken pieces in hot oil. Quickly sprinkle half the cinnamon mix on top of chicken, then immediately turn the chicken pieces over and sprinkle the other half of the cinnamon mix on the other side. Brown the chicken, turning it over again to fully brown all sides (the first turn was just to apply the spices -- you could apply them before putting in pan, but it's easier this way). After the meat is browned on all sides, transfer it to a plate.
Add more oil to skillet if necessary and saute onions until golden; about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, saute another minute.
Stir in tomato paste and vinegar mix, saute for another minute.
Add wine and stir to deglaze the pan, which pulls all the flavors up from anything that stuck to the bottom.
Add the tomato sauce and canned tomatoes (or water, if not using tomatoes and sauce) and bring to a simmer.
Stir in sugar, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, tasting sauce after each addition of sugar to determine when the acidity of the tomatoes is properly balanced. After all sugar added, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
Then add chicken back into pot and simmer, covered, until tender (typically 1-3 hours, depending on how tough the rooster is, or only 35-45 minutes if using a young and tender CX). Most of my 8-12 month old Dorking cockerels take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
If you want to thicken the sauce, transfer the chicken to a platter and boil sauce, uncovered, until it is reduced to desired thickness, stirring frequently (typically 10-20 minutes). I did that the first time, but my husband likes the thinner sauce better so I don't do this extra step now. Season with salt if needed (which it rarely is unless you use unsalted tomatoes, or use water instead of tomato sauce plus canned tomatoes for liquid).
I often add vegetables towards the end, giving them just enough time to cook. Cauliflower holds the sauce beautifully and develops wonder flavor, as do many other vegetables.
Serve straight, or over your favorite starch (pasta, rice, french lentils, bulgar, cous cous, barley, winter squash, plantains, green peas, etc), or over greens (collards, bok choy, most asian greens, mizuna mustard, beet tops, any greens with a slightly sweet flavor or with only minimal bitterness -- nothing strongly flavored that would interfere with the sauce. Add toppings if desired.
I have also used this recipe for salmon, letting the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, then adding the salmon back into it and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness. Delicious.
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