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Chicken cacciatore, a hunter-style Italian chicken braised in tomato sauce with onion, garlic, and white wine.
Cacciatore chicken is an Italian chicken dish stewed in a tomato-based sauce and often includes wild mushrooms. It is often referred to as "hunter style" as the word cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian.
Why "hunter" style? One story is that if a hunter came home empty-handed, his wife would kill a chicken for food.
When I first experimented with this recipe, I made it without mushrooms or bell peppers, which are often included in the chicken cacciatore. Since then, I have come to enjoy the mushroom and pepper dish, so I have updated the recipe to reflect those additions.
If you prefer without one or both ingredients, feel free to skip them. Many people also add green olives or capers, which would make great additions, too.
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Chicken cacciatore recipe (hunter-style chicken)
Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.
Yield: Serves 4-6
- One 4-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces, trimmed of excess fat (or 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs)
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced root to tip, about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch wide slices
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup of white or red wine
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups of ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, firm, with their juices, or 1 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes in their juice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh, minced)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 fresh teaspoons, chopped)
1 brown the chicken: Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season the chicken pieces on all sides with salt. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Working in batches so you don't fill the pan, place the chicken pieces skin-side down in the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip and lightly brown the other side.
Remove chicken to bowl, set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the processed fat. If you have less than 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan, add more olive oil until you have about that amount of oil covering the pan.
2 Sauté the onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic: Add the sliced onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms to the skillet. Increase heat to medium high.
Cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic to skillet and cook one more minute.
3 Deglaze bread with wine, add tomatoes, spices: Add the wine and scrape up the golden pieces at the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine is halved. Add the tomatoes.
Add the pepper, thyme, oregano, and about a teaspoon of salt. Test and taste to adjust. Simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes.
4 Add chicken back to skillet, partially cover, cook until tender: Lay the chicken pieces on the tomatoes and onions, skin side up. Lower the heat and cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Simmer the chicken, turning and basting occasionally. Cook until thighs are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
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