The Foodie Files, vol. 3: Cafe Miranda, Rockland

Cafe Miranda’s been open in Rockland since 1993, and Chef Kerry Altiero’s been cooking up a wide array of cuisines in his 9 ton brick oven for 20 seasons now. Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Italian – anything is on the table at Miranda. Altiero contracted John Patrick Manley of Brick Stove works in Washington to built the beast, which cranks out dish after dish on busy weekend nights. The prices are as diverse as the cuisine – pizzas start at $10, and go up to higher end dishes – and the atmosphere is laid-back and funky. Cafe Miranda also boasts its own micro-farm, Headacre Farm, run by Anne Perkins, which supplies it with fresh veggies all season long. Though Altiero learned some Italian cooking from his grandmother in Pennsylvania, he puts unique twists on nearly all the food he serves at his restaurant. His recipe for Chicken Cacciatore is based on the traditional dish, but features his own tweaks.

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 2

2 boneless chicken breasts, brined

1/2 cup sliced red onions

1/2 cup sliced poblano peppers

1/2 cup sweet red peppers, sliced

4 white mushrooms, sliced

15-20 or so Kalamata olives

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1/2 cup olive oil – use as much or as little as you want

Two heavy ladlefuls, or a heaping cup, of marinara sauce, preferably homemade

Two cups fresh spinach, lightly coated in olive oil

Water

Two servings rigatoni or other chewy pasta

Salt and pepper

Shredded Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Combine first seven ingredients plus half the olive oil in an oven-safe metal pan, cast-iron or otherwise, and season with salt and pepper. Put the pan in the oven and let it cook for five minutes before carefully removing it and stirring up all the ingredients. Return to oven and repeat for another five minutes or so; remove pan and stir again, checking chicken for doneness. When chicken is just shy of being done – you can check with a meat thermometer or slicing in to check pinkness – add spinach, ladle marinara sauce and a small amount of water into pan and stir all ingredients up. Turn the broiler on and set pan inside, four to five inches from broiler, to let sauce bubble and sizzle and combine with other flavors. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t smoke. Serve over rigatoni or another chewy pasta, with shredded romano, more pepper, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil, with a side of foccacia bread.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.