Chicken Cacciatore is 100% pure Italian rustic comfort food, right down to the braised chicken thighs, drumsticks, and sautéed red peppers with onions. Cooked to a pure Italian comfort food goodness in San Marzano tomatoes and quality dry red wine.
There are typically many variations of Chicken Cacciatore, based upon ingredients available in specific regions of Italy. For example, in southern Italy, cacciatore often includes red wine. While northern Italian chefs might use a white wine instead. Some versions of the entrée may use mushrooms, diced carrots, capers, or even green olives depending on the family recipe. You will also find that not all recipes for Chicken Cacciatore will contain tomatoes upon visiting Italy.
Now, what is the meaning behind this deliciously comforting Italian recipe?
Cacciatore: (pronounced [kattʃaˈtoːre]) means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal cooked “hunter style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine.
Our family on my mother’s side having migrated from the Southern region of Italy and Sicily; tend to use a dry dark red wine when cooking Chicken Cacciatore, the flavor of is unbelievably wonderful with this melt in your mouth family recipe. You could adapt this recipe of course simply by adding a quality dry white wine if desired.
Being Chicken Cacciatore is a recipe all of its own, our family enjoys this recipe along with a creamy polenta, crusty Italian bread, or even garlic mashed potatoes. It is seldom served in our traditional Italian home with pasta. However, this is your dinner, enjoy it how you wish is my opinion.
What exactly is braising meat? Braising meat; is to fry a choice meat such as chicken, rabbit, veal, lightly in olive oil and then stew it slowly in a Dutch oven or a large heavy-lidded metal pan slowly.
Have you ever braised meat? If not here are a few tips…
- Sear the meat: Season the meat on all sides with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour authentic olive oil into a Dutch oven; set over medium-high heat, then add the meat. Don’t overcrowd. Cook for 5 minutes on each side; enough get deep color all over. Remove the meat from the Dutch oven; set aside till ready.
- Saute the vegetables: Cook chopped the onions, garlic, peppers, in the pan drippings left from searing the meat, stirring frequently. Like the above step, use medium-high heat to cook the vegetables, careful not to scorch them.
- Deglaze the Dutch oven: Add the braising liquid, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden turner. Those little bits will add an explosion of flavor to your recipe.
- Braising the meat: Return the meat to the Dutch oven, with any pan juices, wine, etc. The meat should not be completely submerged at the time of cooking. Bring the liquids to a simmer, then cover and slide into a 325-degree oven or maintain 325-degrees on the stovetop.
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on
- 4 chicken legs, skin on
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
- 3 tablespoons of authentic olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 of a cup of quality dry red wine
- 1 -28-ounce can of diced San Marzano tomatoes with juice
- 1/2 of a cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons of drained capers
- 1/2 teaspoons dried Rosemary
- 1 tablespoon of dried basil
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- red pepper flakes to own taste
- 1/4 of a cup fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
- Liberally season both sides of the chicken thighs and drumsticks with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Dredge the chicken in all-purpose flour and lightly shake excess all-purpose flour off.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the authentic olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken to the Dutch oven and cook till just until a light golden brown, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Add the chopped red bell pepper, chopped yellow onion, and minced garlic to the same Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until the onion has softened about 4-5 minutes. You may season with a touch more kosher salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.
- Next, add the dry red wine and lightly simmer until the dry red wine has reduced by about half, about 4 minutes.
- Add the San Marzano tomatoes along with the juice, low-sodium broth, capers, dried Rosemary, dried basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes to own taste.
- Return the chicken thighs and drumsticks to the Dutch oven and flip them a few times to coat the chicken in the sauce.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 35- 40 minutes.
- Carefully remove the chicken from the Dutch oven and place in a deep serving dish, ladle the sauce over chicken pieces and garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley before serving.
- May be served with a creamy side of polenta, pasta, crusty Italian bread, or mashed potatoes.
© Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch, 2018-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Heidy L. McCallum and The McCallum’s Shamrock Patch with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.