Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore)

Chicken Cacciatore aka Hunter's Chicken.  (Just a heads up this isn't a super quick meal) The name comes from when hunters would come home with freshly hunted game and the wife would cook it up with some tomatoes/veggies, wine and aromatics.  The mushrooms in the dish compliment it's earthy, home cooked aura.  I have seen countless versions of this recipe and this is a dish where each family has their own, but traditionally it will consist of a whole chicken (cut into 8 pieces), tomatoes, wine and mushrooms.  We are essentially braising (cooking low and slow) the chicken to make the tough cuts of meat fall off the bone tender and delicious.  This dish is basically impossible to overcook and definitely calls for red wine and a loaf of crusty bread to be its accompaniment.  Oh, and did I mention it's is easy to make- it's just really cutting up veggies.

One side note is that I used bacon.  Traditionally this dish uses pancetta (which is an Italian version of bacon- it is just not smoked).  You can use either or none.  I can never find pancetta so I just used bacon.  I mean who doesn’t love bacon?

Oh and regarding the chicken- I have made this dish many times with different pieces of chicken, from boneless skinless breasts to thighs and drumsticks only.  It is totally up to you, what's on sale, what you have lying around etc.  Thighs and drumstick family pack with skin and bones were on sale, so I picked up a pack and used 6 thighs and 2 legs.  When it was cooked I pulled them out of the sauce and removed the bones and skin as you can see from the picture above. Whatever you do is totally up to you though, I just wouldn't forget the bread to mop up all that delicious sauce. Buon appetito!

  • About 2-3 pounds of chicken, whatever cuts you like.  It would be about 4 chicken breasts, 6 thighs and 2 drumsticks, 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of chicken you like that fits in the pan you're using.
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/4 pound of pancetta (or bacon), chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 10 oz mushrooms, sliced or chopped into chunks (I used baby portabellos, but use whatever you like.  10 oz is usually the standard package at the store)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of each the following spices: rosemary, thyme, oregano & red pepper flakes (feel free to add more or less of any of these)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper (of course)

1.      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.      In a large deep sided skillet or dutch oven heat some oil over high heat
3.      Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and then dredge them in flour.  Make sure to shake off excessive flour.  If you are using skin-on sear the skin side first.  (Also- if you are using skin on you can choose to skip the flour dredging)
4.      When chicken is seared remove from the pan and reserve.  If there is a lot of oil is the pan, dump it out and add just a splash of new oil.  (The point here is to not have a lot of oil in the pan, just enough to help the bacon/pancetta start rendering.  The bacon will provide a bit more fat for the veggies later)
5.      Add bacon or pancetta.  Cook for a couple minutes until it starts to get crispy, you can lower the heat a bit here- like to medium high.
6.      When that is done add your onion, pepper, garlic and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and the rest of the spices (except bay leaves).
7.      Let those cook until the mushrooms are brown and the rest of the veggies soft. About 10 minutes I would say.
8.      Add the wine and deglaze the pan.  Cook the wine for about a minute then add the chicken stock and tomatoes.  Taste it and see if it needs more salt and pepper- it most likely will.
9.      Snuggle the chicken pieces back into the pan and add the bay leaves.  Bring this up to a boil, then cover and put into the oven.  You can cook this on the stove top but I find it easier in the oven.
10.  I cooked the chicken covered at 350 for 30 mins, then stirred it, uncovered it and then raised the heat to 400 degrees and cooked it uncovered for another 30 minutes.  (Basically it should just be bubbling gently in the oven).
11.  I served over cavatappi pasta and topped with pecorino cheese.  Don't forget the bread!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...