Everytime I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I spy the Happy Family Platter on the menu. A conglomeration of chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp. See everyone is happy. This past week we had out of town guests stay with us and I needed to be sure that every meal was a “Happy Family” meal. I was feeding four adults and five children, all with different likes and dislikes. I have a little motto here in my home- go with what you know, and I know Italian food, at least the dishes I grew up enjoying. So I created an Italian version of the Happy Family.
Cacciatora means hunter so this is a hunter-style stew of not only the traditional chicken but meatballs and Italian sausage too. Simmered in a savory sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, red wine, and fresh herbs, my guests each found a little something they loved. The children enjoyed meatballs subs, while we adults enjoyed the chicken, which was fall-apart-tender, along with a link of sausage. A pound of sauteed spinach with garlic and fresh nutmeg accompanied the meal as well as a sour cream cucumber salad. Also for the kids, macaroni and cheese and some rice for the adults to help absorb that delicious sauce.
Happy Family Cacciatore
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, most fat removed
10 links Sweet Italian sausage
20 meatballs-homemade or purchased
1- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt or to taste
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
8 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup good red wine
Place all ingredients in a large crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. Or in a large Dutch oven bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Prior to serving, readjust seasonings. Serve with rolls to make sausage or meatballs subs. Also serve with a side of basmati rice for topping with meats and sauce. Serves about 15.
Note: You may want to provide your guests with mozzarella cheese to melt on subs, Romano cheese for sprinkling, peperoncini peppers, maybe pasta instead of rice. Provide a large salad as well. I think a pound of shrimp thrown in at the very last would have been fantastic as well. Be creative and everyone is happy.