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chicken stew for potluck tonight. need question answered please :)

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I'm making up a huge pot of pollo alla cacciatori (Batali's recipe from October COTM). I'm bringing this to a potluck for about 25 people tonight. This particular (DELICIOUS) cacciatore recipe ends up being very stew-y (with a delightfully deep rich mysterious red sauce). So I'll be serving it in bowls, i think-- as opposed to on a plate, a piece of chicken with the sauce spooned over. I have 11 thighs stewing.

***Here's my question: Should I pull the meat off the bones once cooked through? Otherwise I know it's a little tricky to eat, and I believe we will be balancing plates on laps at this party... it could be hard to attack the meat on the bone, manipulating knife and fork in a bowl, while sitting on a couch...

I know the meat will be very tender, and I can probably just get it off with a fork and dunk it all back in the stew. Or -- would that be weird? Texturally? Bread for dipping in the sauce could be provided. I also like the idea of shredding since I don't have enough thighs for each person to get one (just wouldn't fit in the pot!)

Hmmm.... what do you think? When I make it for my sweety and me, we end up pulling the meat off in our individual bowls anyway..

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  1. If it's going to be eaten off laps, I would not only de-bone it, I would cut it into about 1-inch cubes so no one has to try to cut through it. I serve 2-3 buffets per year where my guests have to do the plate balancing thing, and I always make sure that everything can be handled with only a fork or spoon, no knives needed. Haven't had a disaster-spill-stain yet!

    1. I think that your idea of deboning is a good one - it'll make it a lot easier to eat. Adding it back into the stew is probably the easiest, yep. I wouldn't shred it, though - you'll want chunks in the stew.

      1. I agree...cut into cubes and put back in the stew.

        1. thank you, thank you for the tips. You were all so right! I did take the meat off the bones and cut it up. Everybody went crazy over this at the party. Now I'm enjoying the leftovers, flavors increasing in intensity as the pancetta flavor deepens. I add a splash of sour cream after reheating and dunk bread. Fantastic winter coziness in a bowl.

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          1. re: foxy fairy

            foxy fairy - Question for you. I just made Batali's chicken cacciatore, quadrupling the recipe for a large dinner party. It was very good, but because the pots were so full, the pancetta stayed soft, which wasn't entirely pleasant texturally. I've never cooked with pancetta before. Should it have browned up when it was cooked with the veggies in the cacciatore?