For some reason I always thought chicken cacciatore was some type of chicken, spaghetti casserole. Wait a minute, the more I think about it, I think I was confusing chicken cacciatore with chicken tetrazini! Ohh! For awhile, when I was in high school, my mom had chicken tetrazini in heavy rotation. My brother and father loved, but I did not. I remember watching them add hot sauce to the dish as well. Watching them spice up the drab dish (sorry mom!) was not satisfying either. I'm not sure what it was, considering I liked pasta and back in high school I did eat chicken? Whatever the reason, I somehow confused the name with chicken cacciatore, and thus I never made chicken cacciatore.
It wasn't until I was watching Fabio on Top Chef All Stars make chicken cacciatore for the Italian food challenge at Rao's Restaurant that I realized chicken cacciatore is not chicken tetrazini! Suprisingly, Fabio did not win and unfortunately lost to Antonia's mussels dish. (I loved Fabio's response, Antonia beat me with a bowl of steamed mussels and some fennel. That's a French dish! There's something wrong with this picture.) In commiseration with Fabio for his loss, and learning that chicken cacciatore is authentic Italian food, I decided to try the dish. Despite his loss, Tony Bourdain gave him kudos for the dish. Now I know Bourdain doesn't eat chicken tetrazini, so it was off to try the recipe!
The direct translation of cacciatore in Italian is hunter style. So chicken cacciatore is a way of cooking the chicken hunter style, with specific vegetables. The recipe I found was a simpler and healthier version of the traditional dish. I modified the dish slightly, only because I was low on tomatoes. Hubby said it was great. I wanted to serve it with polenta a la Fabio, but I wasn't in the mood to deal with my tempestuous relationship with polenta. That's for another day.
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Recipe calls for bone and skin, but after the chicken and rice soup fiasco I chose no bones.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bell pepper
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup white wine
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 can tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium high. Add onions and cook until transluscent. Push the onions to the side and add garlic and chicken. Cook until chicken is browned and then flip to other side and brown it. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Add wine and bring to a simmer until reduced by half. Add tomatoes and cook until juices are coming out of tomatoes. Add in tomato paste. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer with lid slightly ajar.
3. Cook the chicken in the simmering liquid, basting from time to time, until chicken is tender and falling apart, 40 minutes to an hour. If stew starts to dry out, add a couple tablespoons of water.(I shredded the chicken completely after cooking to make it easier to eat with pasta)
4. Cool and serve with rice, pasta or polenta. I served it with capellini.
Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 5
This is pretty simple, a couple of different steps, but over all pretty easy. Hubby ate a heaping helping of it and said it was great.
If I do make this dish again I think I will use chicken breasts instead of thighs. I was a little irked out at using the dark meat, something I'm not used to. I make plenty of pasta/chicken dishes so I'm undecided if this will go into heavy rotation, it's up to Hubby.