Chicken Cacciatore is simple to make and hands down, my favorite Italian dish. It's a hunter-style dish that hails from the Mediterranean area of Italy. The best recipe for chicken cacciatore is here and you and your family will love it. The aroma and flavors are exquisite!
Cacciatore translates to 'hunter' or 'to hunt'. Hunter-style recipes are often dishes such as stews, soups, basically, a big pot with ingredients tossed in, hunter style. Something a hunter could put together with very little actual technical 'cooking skill' involved. That's what this is, basically a chicken stew. Of course, it doesn't have to be made with chicken, you could use rabbit, pheasant, duck, squirrel, your choice. This is one of those dishes that will have strangers invading your home for a taste, the smell is that good. So I don't know, you may want to lock the doors and windows first.
You'll need a Dutch oven or a heavy cast-iron skillet. I used a pot with a lid about the size of a Dutch oven however, the one I used is not oven safe. This can be made either way though, just be aware of the type of pot you are using and whether it is oven-safe. If you don't know, use the stovetop. It won't matter as far as taste is concerned.
If a recipe calls for bone-in meat, use bone-in meat. Sometimes it makes sense to remove the bone beforehand, with different meats and different recipes, but if a recipe calls for bone-in meat, go for it. I know it's convenient to take the easy route, but do yourself a favor and don't cut corners. There are advantages to bone-in cooking. Bone-in is a good insulator for meat and will maximize the flavor of your meal. It also provides more micronutrients and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium among others. It is healthier because it assists your immune system and can reduce inflammation in your body. I'm not a health expert though the information is out there and I try to eat as healthy as I can. It's hard in this day and age but sometimes the little things we can do here and there can make a difference overall if we make the effort.
6 Bone-in chicken thighs
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 Teaspoon of red pepper flakes - I used cayenne
Salt & Pepper
1 Onion diced - medium size
2 Tablespoons of garlic minced - I cut corners and used went shaker style
2 Bell peppers diced - 1 yellow & 1 red (any color is fine) -
1 Teaspoon of thyme
1 Teaspoon of oregano
10 Ounces of fresh mushrooms sliced - Oysters or Shiitake are good choices
1 Large carrot diced - I couldn't find a big one so I used a medium size with a smaller one. Cut the ends off, peel, and chop
1/2 Cup of sliced and pitted black olives
150 ml of Red wine - Good choices are Chianti, Pinot Noir, or Lambrusco - I went with Chianti and it took FOREVER to find but the grocery store did have some. I was glad, Chianti is a dry wine that goes perfectly with this dish.
7 Roma tomatoes halved
2 Tablespoons of tomato paste
28 Ounces of crushed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons of basil
Let's Put This Together & See What Happens
First, you'll need to heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or Dutch oven (med-high heat) and while that heats up, season your chicken with a little salt and pepper. I left the bone-in but I did trim off some of the excess fat. Place the thighs in your skillet or Dutch oven, don't crowd your meat. Sear them on both sides to a golden brown, should take about 3-4 minutes. You can sear them in a skillet if you want and transfer them. I used the pot since it will contain all the flavors etc.
While the meat is searing, get to washing and chopping those vegetables.
Once the chicken has reached a golden brown on both sides, remove them from the pot and set them aside. Add the remaining oil to the still-hot pot. Sauté the onion until it is transparent. Then you'll add the garlic. Let that simmer for about 30 seconds and toss in the bell peppers, mushrooms, and carrot(s). Also add in the herbs, thyme, oregano, and basil. After about 5 minutes the vegetables will begin to soften.
Now add the Chianti (or wine of your choosing). Use a spatula and scrape up all the tasty little bits in the pot. After 2 minutes, the wine should be reduced and you'll add the tomato paste, Roma tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes. Also, add the red pepper flakes and season with salt & pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pot and continue to cook either on the stovetop or in the oven. For the stovetop - cover and cook for 40 minutes until the meat is falling off the bone. Add the olives and simmer for another 10 minutes. For the oven - Preheat oven to 375 degrees, place a lid on top, and cook for 50 minutes. Remove the lid and add in the olives and cook for another 20 minutes until the chicken is falling off the bone and the sauce is reduced.
The aroma is probably making your family starve by now so serve it up
I served it over spaghetti noodles and topped it with some fresh parmesan cheese. Goes well with a salad, some French bread, and a glass of Chianti (or whatever wine you chose for the recipe).
This is truly an amazing dish and so simple to put together. The smell and taste are divine. I hope you give it a try, your family will surely be coming back for more. Thank you for reading and I hope your week is blessed beyond measure.