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Chicken Cacciatora - Italian Style

Thom Hackett
Servings: 4

 

 

Chicken Cacciatora is the Italian version of the French Chicken Chasseur*. Both are braised fowl cooked hunter style. Braised chicken dishes are wonderful because they are easy to make and flavorful. They can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several days, where they develop even more flavor. There are many versions of Cacciatora; this one is adapted from The Food of Italy.
"Chasseur" is the French word for hunter. Originally the technique was a way of fixing fowl brought back by hunters, along with mushrooms gleaned from the woods. It is now commonly used for chicken accompanied by button mushrooms, an ingredient more readily available. As with most braised chicken dishes, it is easy to make and delicious. It's flavor improves as it sits in the refrigerator. Make it a day or two in advance.

 

Ingredients


VEGETABLES:
1½ tablespoons olive oil, approximate measure
1 large finely chopped onion, 1 cup
3 cloves minced garlic
1 stalk finely chopped celery
5 ounces pancetta, or 3 pieces fully cooked bacon, finely chopped
1½ cups button mushroom, thickly sliced, I love mushrooms so I use 2½ cups

CHICKEN AND SAUCE:
1½ Tablespoons olive oil, approximate measure
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cans chopped tomatoes, 14 ounces each
10 ounces canned tomato sauce
10 ounces water
¼ teaspoon brown sugar
1 sprig oregano, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 sprig rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
¼ cup vermouth, or dry white wine
a few grinds of sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
cooked rice

Cooking Method


VEGETABLE:

  1. In a good size casserole, heat about 1½ tablespoons of olive oil to medium-low.

  2. Add the onion, garlic, and celery, and sweat (cook over low to medium-low heat), stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.

  3. Add the pancetta or bacon and mushrooms. 

  4. Turn up the  heat to medium and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes.

  5. Then remove to a bowl and reserve.  A high heat spoon spatula works great for this.

CHICKEN AND SAUCE:

  1. Add about 1½ tablespoons of olive oil to the casserole.  Let heat. 

  2. Then add the chicken pieces, as many as the casserole will hold with room between the pieces. 

  3. Grind some sea salt and pepper over each as they cook. 

  4. Brown each piece for approximately 3 minutes per side, turning once. 

  5. Remove browned pieces to a bowl. 

  6. When all are browned, remove any excess fat from the bottom of casserole with a spoon. 

  7. Add vermouth or white wine and deglaze the casserole (scrape up all brown bits into liquid). 

  8. Cook until liquid has almost evaporated. 

  9. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, sugar, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaf. 

  10. Bring to a boil, then stir in the vegetable-pancetta/bacon mixture. 

  11. Add the chicken.

  12. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender. 

  13. Add ¼ cup Vermouth or White Wine and cook 5 minutes.

Serve over cooked rice.

     
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