My Twist on a Classic Chicken Cacciatore
Growing up, I loved my grandmother’s cooking – with a few exceptions that were much more due to my picky tastes than her skills as a chef! For some reason I never cared for her Chicken Cacciatore as a child, perhaps because I was still in that phase where I didn’t want heavy sauces on my meat, starch or veggies (while I was a good eater, I wanted everything separate and “not mixed together”.)
Oh, how my tastes have changed! Through the years, and as I developed my own skills and recipes in the kitchen, I found myself coming back to Chicken Cacciatore and and realizing what a great dish it could be – if I put my own spin on it, at least. I wanted a dish with heartier, richer flavors, and a sauce that was a little more sour than too sweet as some tomato sauces can be. I wanted something as well that was relatively easy and quick to prepare, and a dish that could hold up well to make for a few nights’ meals (or be an easy dish to feed a crowd at a party.)
So here you will find my recipe for Hunter-Style Chicken (Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian), as I’ve tweaked it through the years and now regularly make it. It has many of the earthy and hearty flavors I love about rustic Italian food: tomatoes, olives, and red wine, yet it can can be assembled and on your dinner table in a little over an hour’s time. Like traditional Chicken Cacciatore, you can experiment with the vegetables you add to it based on your tastes and availability, but I like the balance of the peppers, onions and olives in my version. Care to give it a try?
Hunter-Style Chicken: My Recipe
Like a true hunter’s chicken, you can adjust this recipe in many ways based on your tastes and what is on hand. For instance, you can easily add baby bella or white mushrooms to the sauce, and use different colors of bell peppers for variety and visual impact.
I serve my dish chicken over rice but you could just as easily serve it with egg noodles, penne pasta or even mashed potatoes…anything that will soak up the delicious sauce. A crusty loaf of Italian bread would also be welcome on the side, along with a green salad for some bright flavors and crisp greens.
- 8 pieces of skin-on chicken (drumsticks and/or thighs) or one whole cut-up chicken
- 1.5 cups red wine
- 1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cloves regular garlic (or 1 clove elephant garlic) – thinly sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion – cut into thick slices
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup mixed sweet peppers – deseeded and cut into large dice
- 1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 30 small green olives stuffed with pimento
- Fresh ground pepper
- Italian seasoning mix
- Cooked hot white rice or pasta to serve
Wash and dry chicken pieces, then coat with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Also get everything else ready to add – having your mise en place prepared always makes cooking faster and easier!
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan or stove top casserole. Add onions and garlic and saute until starting to soften and turn translucent – about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces to the pan cook until browned on all sides, 15 minutes.
De-glaze the pan by adding the red wine and allowing it to cook and bubble for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom to release all of the browned “bits” into the sauce.
Add all of the remaining ingredients except the olives. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the tomato sauce is thickened, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your rice or pasta to have ready to serve.
Add the green olives and cook for an additional 5 minutes; taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Serve finished dish in large bowls, with the chicken and sauce on top of the rice or pasta. You may wish to garnish with fresh chopped parsley.