I think this melding of cinnamon, onions, and garlic is addictive. As kota kapama simmers on top of your stove, it fills your home with an aroma so heavenly, when you sit down to dinner you wonder if it can taste as good as it smells (yes, it can). This dish is definitely one of my favorite ways to cook chicken. If there’s one thing you can do to make your kapama taste like mine, it’s skip the supermarket shrink-wrapped chicken. Either buy a whole bird and cut it yourself or seek out your local butcher and have him or her cut your chicken for you. Fresh-cut poultry always makes the biggest difference in how kapama tastes. For a true kota kapama, finish the dish with the aromatic sheep’s cheese, Myzithra. If you can’t find Myzithra, use kasseri cheese or freshly grated Romano.—Cat Cora
One 2 1/2 to 3 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup grated Myzithra cheese
1. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels so they don’t spatter in the pan. Mix the cinnamon, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl and rub the chicken pieces on all sides with the mixture. Mince 3 of the garlic cloves and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, non-aluminum skillet over high heat. A 12-inch skillet with sides about 3 inches high will allow you to brown all the chicken pieces at once. If you don’t have a skillet large enough, brown the chicken in 2 batches, using 1 tablespoon of oil for each batch. Don’t crowd the pieces in the pan or the chicken will steam rather than brown.
3. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, shifting the pieces with a metal spatula so the chicken doesn’t stick to the skillet. When the pieces are nicely browned on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the onions and minced garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions have softened and are a rich golden brown. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula or spoon to deglaze, loosening any browned bits.
4. When the wine has evaporated, add the water, tomato paste, and remaining 2 whole garlic cloves. Return the chicken to the pan. The liquid should cover about three quarters of the chicken. Reduce the heat to low, cover skillet with a lid, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. (If the sauce becomes too thick, thin it with a little more water.) Taste and adjust the seasoning.
5. I like to serve this with my family’s homemade buttered noodles, but it’s also great over rice, orzo, or macaroni. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of each serving.
Recipe © 2004 by Catherine Cora. All rights reserved.