Cooking 101 - Old World Chicken Cacciatore


{prob'ly gives you bad breath, too, what with all the onion and garlic in it...so maybe you should hold your breath in.}

I have this old, rustic Italian cookbook that I got on a clearance rack somewhere and it inspired me.  There's something so grounding and wholesome about good, rustic Italian food.  This dish, however, is pretty universal - it's a chicken stew simmered in vegetables, which most countries have their own version of.  This version, though, it's my twist on the dish and it's now one of my family's ultimate favorite comfort food dishes!  The flavors were deep and rich, and the chicken just fell off the bone.  

{cacciatore means 'hunter' in Italian, so this is often referred to as a 'hunter's stew'}

You'll need:

olive oil
5-6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin off
5-6 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin off (I didn't take the skin off of the drums...too much work)
1 c. flour, seasoned with salt & pepper, spread onto a pie plate
1 1/2 c. chopped, thick pancetta (I used a lean, smoked turkey bacon - about 6-7 slices, but regular bacon would work fine, too.  Just drain off the fat after you cook it)
3 x 14 oz. cans diced tomato
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, fine minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. dry white wine (it cooks off...don't get fussy with me now)
1 T. chicken base (or 3 chicken bullion cubes--but chicken base is better)
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. dried oregano - or one sprig fresh
1 tsp. ground rosemary - or one sprig fresh

In a large dutch oven pot or stock pot, heat about 2 T. olive oil and sautee onion, garlic, and celery until the onion turns golden brown and a little translucent.  Add the chopped pancetta or bacon and cook for about 6 minutes or until the pancetta/bacon starts turning a golden brown color.  Spoon out onto a plate and set aside.

In the same pot, heat another 2 T olive oil.  Coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, brown on all sides, working in batches, using more olive oil as you need it.  Set the chicken aside on a large plate.  Then add the white wine and deglaze the pan. {those browned bits add a great flavor to the dish}  When all of the liquid is mostly evaporated, add the tomatoes, water, chicken base, brown sugar, oregano, and rosemary - stir to combine and bring to a simmer.  Add everything else back into the pot - the chicken, as well as the onion mixture.  Simmer on low heat for about 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is tender - almost falling off the bone.  (I cooked mine for an hour on a low simmer)

When you're ready to serve, add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate.  Season with salt or chicken base - sometimes if I'm missing some flavor, I'll add a little scoop of chicken base, which seems to be just the trick. 

Serve this with some pasta or a crusty loaf of bread.  


Michele said...

Wow! This sounds like a wonderful version. I'm drooling.

Kimberly said...

Looks so good. Thanks for sharing. I've gotta try this :)

Goldie said...

This recipe sounds so delicious! I love cooking with wine. Adds a whole new dimension to my recipes. I do feel kind of guilty for having wine in the house, since I'm LDS and all, but I swear I don't drink it ;)

Darlene said...

Sorry, but I feel the need to get fussy with you. According to studies that have been done on alcohol content in cooked food, it never all cooks out. Depending on the method of cooking, there could be quite a lot of alcohol still in your food. Take a look at ezinearticles.com and read about cooking with alcohol.

I tried to send this before, but I'm not so great with the computer. Sorry if you've already seen this.

KnittingLizzie said...

First off, I will not get fussy with you...just sayin'.

Secondly, I made this for dinner tonight, and it was delicious. I kicked up the amt. of rosemary and oregano as I had fresh on hand, and changed up the order of things so that I could sear off the chicken in the bacon fat....I just can't let lard go to waste. Must be the Clevelander in me. I did not need an entire cup of cream, but probably because I let it simmer and reduce a long time...nearly two hours. I did this in part because I used thighs and huge bone-in breasts...I wanted it to be tender.

We will be adding this into the rotation, for sure! Thanks!

Lulu the Baker said...

I made this last night for dinner and it was amazing!! I used a whole, cut up chicken plus two extra thighs, and there is enough left for dinner tonight too! I took the extra chicken out, let it cool, shredded it, and put it back in that yummy sauce. We're going to have it over pasta. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!!