Chicken cacciatore is a rustic, warm and simple Italian stew. It generally consists of chicken or rabbit meat (bone-in and skin-on) with tomato, onion, garlic and different vegetables. Carrot, celery, yellow or red bell peppers, olives, and sometimes mushrooms are added. Herbs are not as substantial as in other Italian dishes, but I like to use bay leaves and rosemary for a hint of flavor and fresh Italian parsley for a garnish.
To make chicken cacciatore you can either use a whole or cut-up chicken. Likewise you can use mixed pieces or all the same pieces; my family prefers drumsticks over all other chicken parts so that’s what I use.
I also like to make a day and half or two days worth of chicken cacciatore since it keeps very well and tastes great the next day. That way you get a break from cooking for a day, it’s all about smart cooking here.
Chicken Cacciatore or a Hunter’s Chicken Stew
There are many variations of the “Pollo alla cacciatora” recipe (loosely translated as hunter’s-style chicken), and most of them use wine to make a nice, deep, rich base; white or red, there’s really no right or wrong choice with the wine. Italians use both which makes complete sense. It’s all about using local ingredients. Southern Italy makes great red wines and that’s what they use. Northern Italy makes great white wines (including prosecco!) and that’s what you’ll see in their recipes. So, what should you use? Whatever you have on hand, just don’t go without it. Personally, if I have it, I love to use red wine, particularly Chianti, in chicken cacciatore.
Almost all of the chicken cacciatore recipes direct you to submerge chicken into the stew, or use the stew to coat the chicken during cooking. I must be a bit OCD because I cannot stand submerging chicken into the stew where you can hardly tell what’s what. So, I use a wider oven-safe sauté pan or a 13-inch cast-iron skillet that won’t let chicken pieces sink into the stew, but rather lets it stay partially on top. If you’re one of those lucky people that don’t have these OCD issues, sure, go ahead and roll the chicken in the stew to soak up more flavor. Otherwise, enjoy your pretty plate!
Our favorite way to eat chicken cacciatore is to serve it with a quick leafy green salad and rice.
For this recipe, you will need:
- • 6 drumsticks
- • ⅓ cup flour
- • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- • 1 cup red wine
- • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- • 1 carrot, sliced
- • ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
- • 1 cup black and green olives, pitted and roughly halved
- • 20 oz crushed plum tomatoes (about 1½ 14-ounce can)
- • 1 tsp kosher salt
- • ½ tsp black pepper
- • 2 bay leaves
- • 2 springs fresh rosemary
- • fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash drumsticks with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Dust with flour and shake off the excess.
- Heat oil in an oven-safe deeper skillet or a pan and brown drumsticks until all sides are lightly golden. Take out, sprinkle with ½ tsp salt and some black pepper and set aside.
- Add onions to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes until they are translucent. Pour in wine and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of pan and stir them back into the sauté. Let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add garlic, carrots, celery, olives, and tomatoes including any tomato juice. Season with salt and black pepper. Combine well and return chicken pieces to the pan. You can leave them on the top of the sauce for a prettier plate or you can submerge them in the sauce.
- Rinse dry bay leaves with cold water and add to the pan together with fresh rosemary. Cover the pan with a lid or double-layered aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the meat starts coming off the bone. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with fresh Italian parsley.
- Serve with pasta, mashed potatoes, or my toddler's favorite - rice.
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