Chicken Cacciatore is a very simple Italian chicken recipe that is a firm favorite in our home, and Maria (my wife) always prepares it this way.
It's the way it has been prepared for many generations in her family, and Maria has always stuck faithfully to the traditional way of doing things so that she too can pass the recipe on to future generations of her family and now to your family as well.
Of course, as you will see below, the recipe does have some built-in flexibility.
Chicken Cacciatore means hunter's chicken in Italian, and basically the name comes from the old days when the husband would come home with a pheasant he'd shot (cacciato) for the pot and his wife would add in whatever she'd managed to collect from the kitchen garden or from the woods and fields nearby. it is a recipe popular across Northern Italy.
You can still use pheasant too, if you prefer. It's actually a lot nicer with pheasant, but chicken's easier and cheaper.
The one thing I know for sure is that whenever this dish is on the menu, I always make sure I'm home in time for dinner!
As far as Italian chicken recipes go, this is probably the best known, but there are some other great chicken recipes, like Chicken Valdostana (click for our recipe).
2 lbs. chicken pieces. I usually use thighs and drumsticks as they are not only flavorful but also stand up well to the slow braising process, becoming tender and succulent.
6 Tbs. of olive oil
10 black olives (if you don't like olives you can leave them out)
1 small carrot
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 stalk of celery
1 lb. of tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 glass of dry white wine
1 oz. of dried mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 Tbs. of chopped parsley
If you'd like to add something or remove something from the list above feel free to go ahead: as I mentioned chicken cacciatore was traditionally made from whatever the "hunter" brought home and whatever was fresh in the garden or foraged in the woods. When I make it I still do the same.
1) Wash and dry the cut-up chicken pieces. Saute the carrot, celery, peppers, olives, onion, and garlic in the olive oil. When tender but not crisp, add the chicken pieces, salt and pepper, and bay leaf, and let them brown over a high flame.
2) Add the white wine, and when the wine has evaporated, add a few mushrooms, the tomatoes, and the 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Cook for about 1 hour over medium heat.
3) When ready, remove from heat, add the chopped parsley, and arrange on a heated serving platter.
Chicken cacciatore is typically served over polenta, or with crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
Yes, chicken cacciatore is an excellent dish to make in advance. In fact, many people find that the flavors deepen and intensify after sitting for a day or two in the refrigerator. This makes it a convenient option for meal prep or entertaining.
Yes, chicken cacciatore can be adapted for slow cookers or Instant Pots. Using these appliances can make the dish even more convenient as it allows for longer, slow-cooking times without constant supervision. Adjust the cooking times and settings according to the specific appliance and recipe.
A medium to full-bodied red wine, such as Chianti or Merlot, pairs well with the rich and savory flavors of chicken cacciatore. The wine complements the tomato-based sauce and enhances the overall dining experience.
While traditional recipes often use bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces for added flavor, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you prefer a leaner option. Keep in mind that breasts may cook faster, so adjust cooking times accordingly to prevent overcooking.
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