The recipes for chicken cacciatore are many and varied, depending on the region in Italy from which they originated. My recipe emerged from the region of Marche (MARkay) in Italy, near Tuscany and the Adriatic Sea. Marche is well known for its shoemaking tradition as it manufactures the most luxurious Italian footwear in Italy (as well as the most delicious chicken cacciatore).
Cacciatore (rhymes with story) in Italian means hunter. It is really a chicken stew, and this is an “authentic” recipe, although it is more often encountered in recipes and in restaurants using tomatoes. It was used by hunters because it was an easy dish to make in the fields. It was made with rabbit then (and even goat), and was also used with chicken as a substitute, which became the standard. The cacciatore can be simmered in the oven or counter top, or made in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker.
- 1 chicken, cut up (or buy any pieces that you like). I recommend dark meat as white meat gets dry when cooked for a long time. I use no necks or backs, as they are quite bony, but legs, thighs and wings work well.
- No salt seasoning (I use Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute), plus granulated garlic and pepper.
- 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, plus one tablespoon of butter or substitute (I use Benecol Light, which is only 3% saturated fat)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 5-8 cloves of peeled garlic, left whole
- 3-5 fresh Rosemary sprigs, and a handful of fresh mint
- 1 ½ cups of semi-sweet white wine (Riesling, White Zinfandel, Chenin Blanc, or Mountain Rhine by Almaden are examples).
- Step 1: Wash chicken, trim fat, pat dry and season well. Brown in a medium hot pan in the olive oil and Benecol (or any butter substitute) or butter. Remove the chicken and set aside. Turn heat down a little, add the onion and the garlic cloves to the pan and brown slightly.
- Step 2: Place the chicken back in the pan and add the rosemary and the mint leaves. Add the wine. Simmer over a slow heat (may cover) until the chicken is tender.
It can be served with a salad and polenta (polenta recipe coming soon) or good plain French bread, or pasta. If you have Italian (flat leaf) parsley, that can be chopped and added with the other herbs and/or used as a garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs upon presentation. If you like poultry seasoning, that can be added to the other seasonings. The whole dish freezes well, and is even better if made the day before serving—I like to remove the fat that comes to the top, and refrigerating it overnight or freezing it facilitates that.
One of the people interviewed on the recipe said when asked about amounts, “add enough oil but not too much”, and repeated this with other ingredients. After you make it a few times, you’ll figure it out to your taste.
When serving, I sprinkle chopped flat leaf parsley or chopped green onions on the top for a fresh look. The chicken can be served in many ways: One is with pasta and marinara sauce—the gravy from the cacciatore is delicious mixed with the pasta sauce, so it can be served on one plate. Black olives and radishes are a nice accompaniment and a mixed green salad with vinaigrette (vinəˈɡret) is a standard, as is French bread.
Have questions? email Lee at: firstname.lastname@example.org