Chicken Cacciatora, or hunter’s style chicken.  There are many different variations of this dish based upon the ingredients available in specific regions of Italy.  Often times the dish varies by what is currently available and in season as well.  For example, the day I took the pictures for this post, I was out of celery so I substituted zucchini instead.  This dish has become a go to recipe for Thursday night dinners at my house.  My children get home late from art class and look forward to having a hearty meal ready when they arrive.  There are as many recipes for this dish as there are Italian hunters.  This one is my favorite.

Pollo alla Cacciatora

By J.D. Brasesco Published: May 31, 2012

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep: 60 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Ready In: 2 hrs 0 min

" Chicken Cacciatora, or hunter's style chicken. There are as many recipes for this dish as there are Italian hunters. This one is my favorite. "

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash the chicken in cold water inside and out. Cut the chicken into ten pieces - two breasts split into four pieces, two thighs, two legs, and two wings. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels.
  2. Select a good heavy pan that will be able to accommodate all of the chicken without overcrowding it. I like the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven. It’s not Italian, but still good. Put the oil in the pan and heat on medium high. While the oil is heating, place about one cup of flour in a medium size bowl. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and dredge them in the flour one at a time. Shake off any excess flour and add the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down.
  3. Cook the chicken in batches to avoid over crowding the pan. Brown the pieces on both sides until they are a rich dark color. Caramelization is flavor so don’t rush this step.
  4. When the chicken pieces are a deep brown color without being burnt, remove them from the pan and rest them on a plate until later.
  5. Once all of the chicken has been browned, add the sliced onions to the oil and chicken fat remaining in the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir the onions until they have softened and become light brown. As the onions release their liquid, you can begin scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan that formed while browning the chicken.
  6. Add the white wine. Cook and reduce it for 30 seconds to one minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan now vigorously with your wooden spoon to deglaze it the rest of the way. Add the garlic and toast for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the bell peppers, carrot, celery. Add the tomatoes and their juices. You can decide how much texture you want the tomatoes to have. I prefer to place them in a separate bowl and break them down with my hands before adding them to the pot.
  8. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan. Add the breast pieces last as they require less cooking. Cover the pan and lower the heat to cook at a slow simmer. After a few minutes, open the lid and check your simmer. You should have small bubbles coming to the surface, but not be at a full boil.
  9. Simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on. Turn the chicken occasionally to ensure even cooking and avoid the sauce burning in the bottom of the pan. After 45 minutes has passed, remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes. This will allow the sauce to reduce and thicken some. Check for seasoning. Add salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste. I prefer to limit the salt in my dishes so I intensify the flavors with the ample supply of garlic, pepper, and red chili flakes.
  10. At my house, we serve Chicken Cacciatora over pasta. Cook one package of fettuccine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Drain the water and return the noodles to the pasta pot. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and some finely chopped herbs like Italian parsley and and garlic chives. Pour the pasta in the center of a large serving dish. Place the chicken pieces around the rim of the serving dish and pour the cacciatora sauce over it liberally.
  11. My herbs come from the garden in the back yard.
  12. Serve with wine, family, and friends.

We often have left over pasta and sauce.  Combined they make a great pasta lunch the following day.  

Buon appetito!

 


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