spaghetti chicken

a gorgeous frozen turkey from my mom and dylan with a hankering for his mom's 'spaghetti chicken' introduced me to this winner of a recipe.  after a lengthy call with his mom (thanks M!) and a few scribbled notes i undertook the semi-monumental task of replicating my loved ones childhood favorites.  i've made it with turkey and with chicken now,  and each time it is accompanied with accolades.  this is truly a simple "working moms" recipe:  quick to prepare, easy to clean up, feeds the whole lot!  i bake mine in a covered pyrex, it could just as easily be accomplished stove top with a big lidded pot (i need one of these).  serve with rice, pasta, french bread or salad, it all tastes good... and worth mentioning, great leftover possibilities!

spaghetti chicken (or turkey)2 loose cups shitake mushrooms, sliced1 cup onions, sliced into half rounds1 whole chicken, cut into parts or 3 pounds chicken or turkey pieces1 quart home-canned tomatoes OR , 1-15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes plus 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes ( 5 cups total from canned tomatoes)...olive oil1 Tbl raw cane sugar1 Tbl fresh oregano, minced1 cup red wine1 cup black olivessalt and pepper to tastepre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  add the mushrooms and a splash of olive oil to a large (cast iron is great) pan, saute on medium heat for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.  once the mushrooms have taken on a nice brown, add the sliced onions, and continue saute another 2-3 minutes until soft and golden, adding more oil as needed.  set aside the sauteed onions and mushrooms in a bowl.

keeping the heat at medium add a bit more olive oil to the same pan.  add the chicken pieces, turning when necessary to quickly brown (not cook), 1 minute or so each side.  once you have seared the chicken pieces, place them in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

back to the pan, add your tomatoes.  bring to a simmer, add the onion and mushroom mixture, the sugar to sweeten it up, the oregano and cup of red wine.  rinse your black olives with a little water, strain, and add to the pan.  if you like a thicker sauce, strain the tomatoes and and/or cook the sauce down for an extra ten minutes. salt and pepper to taste.

now, pour the entire pan of tomato sauce over the chicken pieces and cover tightly with tin foil.  you should have a good 1/4” of space between the top of the liquid in the pan and the edge, though, if your dish is like mine, the chicken will be heaped w/ sauce.  place in the oven, cover and bake for 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees, until the chicken is fork tender and cooked through.  as a side note:  i like to put a large cookie sheet on the rack beneath the dish to catch any possible spillage.

remove from oven and serve hot like we did in the picture above with a cold bean salad and your neighbors home-brewed hard apple cider.