Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore, an Italian-American comfort food meal, also known as Hunter's Chicken, is made from a whole, cut up chicken, lightly dusted in flour and browned in hot oil, then slow braised in a light tomato sauce with onion, sweet bell pepper and mushrooms.
Chicken Cacciatore, an Italian-American comfort food meal, also known as Hunter's Chicken, is made from a whole, cut up chicken, lightly dusted in flour and browned in hot oil, then slow braised in a light tomato sauce with onion, sweet bell pepper and mushrooms.

Chicken Cacciatore

Also known as Hunter's Chicken - or chicken in the style of the hunter - and said to have typically been a dish made using whatever wild game had come from the day's hunt - though today chicken is king.

There is no doubt that Chicken Cacciatore, or Pollo alla Cacciatora, is an authentic Italian dish, though in my Italian cookbook, The Silver Spoon {affil link}, it contains plain unfloured chicken, seared in butter and oil, includes onion, celery, carrots and tomatoes, and is finished with a toss of some fresh parsley. It also states that in some regions of Italy it is heavier in celery and carrots than their recipe, in others white wine is added and in others yet, sliced mushrooms.

Although there is variation in our American versions, we typically toss the sauce with some kind of pasta, or serve it spooned over pasta and then topped with the chicken, none of which is authentic to the original Italian dish, where it appears to be eaten mostly as a stew.

Traditionally, cacciatore is made with a whole cut up chicken, but can be made with any pieces. While it is typically made with skin-on chicken, you may also wish to remove the skin to reduce the accumulated fat if you'd rather, and that is recommended for slow cooker cooking. Home canned or store-bought tomatoes make an excellent sauce, although if you're in the heat of summer, definitely use deep red, and very ripe and juicy fresh tomatoes.

Here's how I make my Chicken Cacciatore. As always, the full ingredient list, including measurements and directions, along with a printable document can be found further down the page. Just swipe or scroll past the step by step pictures to the bottom of the page.

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bag and give it a toss to mix; add chicken and shake to coat on both sides. Brown in hot oil, remove and set aside, reserving drippings. Add the onion and bell pepper to the drippings and cook over medium until tender, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the mushrooms and all remaining ingredients, except for the noodles, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer, add chicken back to pan, add olives, if using, and cook, covered, for 1 hour, turning and stirring occasionally.

Remove chicken and set aside; discard bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Toss cooked spaghetti noodles into the sauce and turn onto individual serving plates. Top with chicken and serve.

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