Chicken Cacciatore recipe inspired by sunny Italy!Chicken cacciatore, or “hunter’s chicken” in Italian, is a simple, delicious dish that exemplifies everything that is beautiful about the generosity and spirit of Italian cucina povera. Using the rustic ingredients that were once available to the Italian peasantry, a single mouthful conjures images of vineyards, ancient, sun-drenched villages and old ladies dressed all in black chattering merrily away over steaming cups of coffee. The greatest asset of this chicken cacciatore recipe is its simplicity. The base ingredients of cacciatore, onion, tomato, chicken and some garden herbs, work together to produce a flavorsome, steaming hot dish that will warm the belly in winter, but is not so heavy that it can’t be eaten in summer, leaving you with an easy-to-prepare, crowd-pleasing meal that’s great to serve throughout the year.
You want to season your chicken before searing it in the olive oil at the beginning of the recipe. A dusting of salt and pepper will usually suffice, but basil and oregano dry rubs are not unheard of. If you do choose to rub your chicken with herbs, be sure to reduce the level of seasoning in the sauce accordingly to avoid one flavor overpowering any others. Once you’ve removed your seared chicken – usually after three to four minutes – you can fry your onions, garlic and capsicums (or bell peppers, for American readers) in the chicken fat, if there’s any left in the pan. This will imbue these ingredients with some of your chicken’s natural flavor and enhance the delicate balance of sweet and savory in your chicken cacciatore recipe.
While you can use tinned tomatoes for this chicken cacciatore recipe, many Italian mothers and grandmothers prefer roasting roma tomatoes in the oven the night before making cacciatore. They season the tomatoes with basil and rosemary, roast them, and puree the results to add to their chicken cacciatore. This leaves you with sweeter tomatoes with lower acidity, perfect for the subtle, delicate flavor balance that defines modern-day Italian cuisine. Some people like to add bay leaf or some grated carrot for extra flavor, although these additions are strictly optional and depend entirely on your palate. The addition of half a cup of a dry Italian red wine to your cacciatore is highly recommended, however, as this helps to thicken the sauce and brings a touch of authentic Italian home cooking to the table.
Traditionally, chicken cacciatore is served with a side dish of crusty Italian bread – ciabatta is perfect for this – generally served without butter. Butter will clog your chicken cacciatore and detract from the overall flavors, so keep your bread naked and use it to mop up the sauce when you’re done. It’s popular in the United States among many Italian expatriates (and this practice has even been taken home to Italy) to serve pasta or risotto with chicken cacciatore. If you do choose to serve some pasta, make sure it’s al dente, with a bit of firmness to it. For commercially available pasta, this usually means cooking it for a minute or two below the time listed on the packaging.
CHICKEN CACCIATORE RECIPE
- Chicken fillet- 1 kg
- Garlic cloves- 2( peeled and chopped)
- Portabello mushrooms- 400-500 gm
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil-2 tbsp
- Butter- 1 tbsp
- Salt- To Taste
- Ground black pepper- 1 tbsp
- White wine- ½ cup
- Canned Italian tomatoes with juice- 1½ cup
- Wash chicken fillet and make 8-10 pieces.
- Choose a pan that will accommodate all the ingredients. Put olive oil and heat it. Add chicken pieces and garlic cloves. Fry them till golden crust, then turn the chicken pieces and do the same with the other side.
- Add salt, pepper and white wine. Let it simmer until about half of it has evaporated.
- Add chopped tomatoes and portabello mushrooms. Reduce the heat and cook until chicken pieces are very tender( about 35-40 min). If you find that there is not enough water, add 3-4 tbsp.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Viola! Chicken Cacciatore inspired by the book “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan