Slow-cooked Taste Achieved In Haste

FASTLANE FEAST

June 05, 1991|By Charlyne Varkonyi

Some of the recipes many of us love the most aren't for the kinds of meals that can be prepared quickly or in hot weather. The flavors have to simmer slowly in the oven or on top of the stove, developing a richness and depth that intensify as the dish fills the kitchen with homey smells.

So, we are forced to forget all those aromatic stews and slow-cooking dishes until the cool days of fall, right? Not necessarily.

Sometimes you can take one of these slow-cooking marvels and transform it into a quick-cooking summer dish without losing the distinctive flavor. The following recipe for rustic Italian chicken 22 with wine is a Fastlane feast version of a traditional chicken stew of the Italian countryside. It relies on all the basic ingredients of the original dish, but uses quicker cooking techniques to get the job done.

But now, more than ever, you will need to shop for the best quality ingredients to get the best flavor in the shortest time. You will need fresh, not dried, rosemary. Make sure to use the best quality prosciutto you can find. Price isn't always an indicator. Get samples and look for the brand with the flavor you like the best.

Also, make sure to use a good quality Chardonnay with a nice oaken flavor; you should have to spend about $5 or $6 per half bottle. Serve the dish with a green salad and crusty peasant bread (such as sourdough) and lemon sorbet with fresh raspberries.

Items you should have in your pantry include: olive oil, white onion, garlic, butter, flour, chicken broth, salt and pepper, salad greens and salad dressing of your choice.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list should include:

* 8 small red-skinned potatoes

* 4 ounces prosciutto, in a large piece, not thin slices

* 1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts

* 1 half bottle white wine, such as Chardonnay

* 1 package frozen peas

* 1 bunch fresh rosemary

* 1 loaf peasant bread, such as sourdough bread

* lemon sorbet

# * fresh raspberries

Rustic Italian chicken with wine Makes 4 servings.

8 small red-skinned potatoes, cut in half

2 tablespoons good quality olive oil

1 white onion, chopped fine

2 to 3 cloves garlic

4 ounces prosciutto, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/4 pounds chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cut into small pieces about 1-inch square

flour

1 can chicken broth (13 3/4 ounces)

2/3 cup white wine, such as a good quality Chardonnay

1 cup peas

salt and pepper, to taste

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, put lid on and bring down to low to cook.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven, add onion, garlic and prosciutto and saute until soft. Add butter. Dust chicken with flour. Saute chicken until brown on both sides. Add chicken broth, wine, peas and salt and pepper and rosemary. Cover and cook on medium about 15 minutes. Before serving, add potatoes and mix well. Serve with salad and crusty bread.

Note: If you like the broth thicker, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour and stir well right before serving.

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