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Sweet Basil's Chicken Cacciatore

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 T. olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 C. minced garlic
2 stalks celery, diced
10 medium mushrooms, diced
3 red bell peppers, sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 C. chicken stock
1 1/2 C. port wine
1 1/2 C. red wine
1 C. Balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1-2 lbs. uncooked pasta
2 T. asiago or Parmesan cheese
1 bunch chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sprinkle the chicken thighs with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Place in a large, oven-proof casserole and roast for about 20 minutes, until they are fairly well cooked but still juicy.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot. Saute the carrots, onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and peppers until they are well browned but not black. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, two types of wine and Balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and pour over the chicken.

Add the bay leaf and return the casserole to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is barely cooked. Drain, but don't rinse the pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the casserole and let it finish cooking (out of the oven) in the sauce, about 2-3 minutes, depending on how you like your pasta. If the sauce is a little dry, add some of the pasta cooking water. If it is too watery, let the pasta sit and sop up some of the liquid.

To serve, garnish with cheese and basil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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