Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

Or ‘hunter style’ chicken as it translates in Italian, is a classic dish of braised chicken cooked in a light tomato sauce with mushrooms.  While its origins may actually be in Italy, the dish has long been popular in America.  There are any number of variations on the central theme but they all are similar, some using white instead of red wine, with or without olives, etc.  The recipe below comes from my sister to which I provide some additional details on the actual cooking procedures.

Julian's Chicken Cacciatore
I think you’ll find this recipe provides a very flavorful sauce and is excellent when tossed with your favorite cooked pasta.  The recipe feeds six adults, but you can easily adjust it up or down.  Also don’t feel you must use these exact ingredients.  Do what good Italian cooks have been doing for years and use what you have on hand and happen to prefer.

3 chicken thighs and 3 chicken breast halves, skin on and bone in (increase to serve more.)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 lg. red bell pepper sliced
1 lg. red or Spanish onion sliced
16 oz. mushrooms sliced
1 cup red or white wine
28 oz. diced tomatoes with juice (canned or fresh)
1 cup chicken broth
1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
Handful of black olives, pitted
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese (plus more for serving)
Chopped basil for serving

1/2  pound pasta (or up to a pound for a hungry crowd)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch Oven or skillet and dredge the chicken pieces in flour.  Brown the chicken on all sides, about five minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from pan and pour out all but one tablespoon of the drippings.  If the flour has burned in the pan, remove all of the oil and wipe out the pan and add fresh oil.  Sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes then add the red peppers and cook another minute longer, stirring frequently.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes then stir in the garlic.  Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, then add the chicken broth, tomatoes and Italian seasoning and bring to a simmer. 

Return chicken to the Dutch Oven or transfer the mixture to a large covered roasting pan or casserole with a lid topped by the browned chicken.  Stir in olives.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Bring pasta water to a boil and cook pasta to a firm al dente, having it ready about when the chicken is done.  Test chicken to ensure doneness (a meat thermometer should read 180F) and remove from oven.  Transfer chicken to a platter and tent with foil.  Return sauce to stove top and bring to a simmer.   Add grated cheese and stir until melted in.  Transfer firm pasta to the sauce, stir in and cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente.  Serve with chicken, sprinkling the entire dish with more shredded cheese and chopped basil.

Plated Chicken Cacciatore

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