Every home chef needs some staple dishes that he or she can whip up in no time: crowd pleasing dishes that are good at any time of year and use simple, easy-to-find ingredients. Chicken cacciatore is definitely one of those dishes!

Originally an Italian dish cooked with either chicken or rabbit, cacciatore (which is Italian for “hunter”) is a rustic dish that is found throughout Italy. Recipes vary depending on the region and the ingredients available (some other recipes I have read use mushrooms, bell pepper, and red or white wine). This is one of things I love about this dish: it is incredibly forgiving, and there is a lot of room in this recipe to “play” with the ingredients and personalize it for your own home.

I hope that you make this a staple in your kitchen: it definitely deserves a place on any and every family’s table!

Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

You will need:

One small chicken (broken down into leg, thigh, wing and breast portions)

3-4 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup flour

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove of garlic (smashed, not diced)

6-8 peeled and diced tomatoes (depending on the size: use fewer if they are larger)

1/4 cup black olives

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Salt and pepper the flour

2. Coat the chicken in flour

3. Heat olive oil in a large, shallow pan

4. Brown the chicken or medium-high heat

5. Remove the chicken from the pan and throw in the carrot, celery and carrot

6. Stir the veggies as they brown in these leftover juices/oil from the chicken

7. Add one clove of garlic, smashed by hand

8. Add the olives (I like to leave them whole, you can pit them if you wish)

9. Add the diced tomatoes to the veggies, let the mixture cook for 2-3 minutes.

10. Put the chicken back in and nestle the chicken in the sauce

11. Reduce to a simmer and let the sauce cook for 40 minutes or until the sauce has thickened

12. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Suggested Wine Pairings

This dish is rustic and has a lot of powerful flavors, like the salty olives and rich, tomato-based sauce. Give it a wine that can stand up to those flavors! Tomato-based screams Sangiovese, if you ask me… try a Sangiovese-based wine like a Chianti or a Torgiano. And keep in mind that although this dish has some strong flavors, it also manages to have a sauce that is fresh tasting (the secret is the fresh tomatoes!) so don’t overpower it with too much fruit and vanilla flavors: a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano might be too much, I’d serve the region’s lighter Rosso di Montepulciano instead.

“Sediments” on the dish

What to serve with chicken cacciatore? Anything, really. I enjoy a bit of creamy polenta and a simple salad: some like roasted potatoes… anything goes!

In the recipe I suggest buying a whole chicken and breaking it down yourself. This is a simple process, a skill I think everyone should have… and it saves a lot of money! Whole chickens tend to be much cheaper than ones that have been broken down for you. Still not convinced? Ok, ok…. go ahead and buy a chicken that has been broken down for you. 🙂

Yes, you can use a can of tomatoes instead. Like I mentioned before, it is an incredibly forgiving recipe: feel free to tweak it as you wish! But after having this dish at least once a week for months now and sampling recipes with canned and fresh tomatoes, I personally prefer the fresh, clean flavors that fresh tomatoes bring to a dish. They also add a touch of sweetness which is welcomed amongst the bolder flavors of the browned chicken, garlic, and olives. Don’t know how to peel fresh tomatoes? Learn the easy process here.

 

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