This dish is made in Istra in Croatia, where my husband is from. I grew up eating Croatian food (as both my parents were also born there), but once I got married although I cooked Croatian, I also cooked food from everywhere, so sometimes I'd forget to cook our traditional food. In the last few years, with my kids getting older, we now have Croatian at least twice a week, to continue Croatian traditions and to expose them to as much Croatian food as I can.
The first time I made this my family loved it. I got a 10/10. I served it with homemade Fuzi (you can use good quality store bought pasta or you could serve it with polenta or homemade gnocchi). The sauce was delicious, it really was the perfect dish.
Some say that a traditional zgvacet would fry the chicken first, then the onions, I went with onions first, as I wanted to make sure my onions were soft and cooked through before I added liquid to the dish, as an uncooked onion in a sauce, ruins the sauce. Also by adding the chicken first, I felt it would over cook.
Double the recipe if you need to serve more, but don't double the oil though.
This is an easy meal to make, especially if using store bough pasta, but making your own pasta is very satisfying, if you have the time. The flavour is delicious and something you really do need to try.
100ml olive oil
1 large brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
20g plain flour
200ml tomato passata
100ml white wine
1/2-1 teaspoon vegeta, to taste
6 basil leaves, torn
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra basil leaves, to serve
Place oil in a large frying pan, heat over a medium heat. Add the onions, sauté for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the chicken pieces, cook on one side for 3 minutes, you want the chicken to colour and be golden brown, stir or turn over and colour the other side. If your heat is too high, reduce it, I only increase the heat, so the meat doesn't stew when I add it.
Once the chicken has browned, if you haven't already, reduce the heat to medium. Add flour to the pan, stir through for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato passata, wine, basil and vegeta, season with salt and pepper. Bring it to a simmer and simmer for around 20 minutes. If needed add water to the sauce, if thickening too quickly.
Serve over fuzi, store bought pasta or polenta with fresh basil leaves.
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