Monday, March 21, 2016

Italian for Two- Chicken Cacciatore

Here is something I didn't know. Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. Makes me chuckle a little bit when I think about the most common cacciatore I know of- chicken. Have you ever hunted a chicken? Me either......anyway, not really the point so, on with my story.

When I was a young girl my dad was very into cooking. He and his buddy Norman often got together on the weekends for a few games of tennis and then they would cook up a storm for dinner. Around that same time my dad got his first Crockpot slow cooker. Of course, he also got a slow cooker cookbook so he could experiment with all kinds of recipes.

My dad. The Seventies Foodie
We had all kinds of soups and stews and dishes made from short ribs. Back then short ribs were the cast-off cut and not trendy like they are today, so Dad could make a big pot of something awesome for not a lot of money. One of the first recipes Dad made in the Crockpot was Chicken Cacciatore. I remember looking at those whole pieces of chicken swimming in that red sauce and thinking it was....weird. 

Now that I am all grown up I have a different appreciation for food. I still have never hunted a chicken, but I love to cook them! My new challenge is cooking for two, and that's not as easy as it sounds when you're cooking Italian foods. Pasta sauce tends to start out small and end up being enough to feed an entire village. This recipe gives you a generous amount of sauce which is perfect for another pasta dish the next day. 

Chicken Cacciatore for Two

2 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
salt and pepper
olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 medium bell pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons crushed dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon marjoram, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
big pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 quarts chopped tomatoes*
1 pint pizza sauce**

In a large stockpot, heat a couple tablespoons of oil.

Cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise to make 4 equal pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in the olive oil, skin side down first, until golden brown. Flip the pieces and brown the back side. Remove to a bowl.

Two chicken breasts cut crosswise gives you four nice portions
Cut the onion into halves and then slice. Slice the bell pepper. Add to the stockpot and cook over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes until slightly softened. Mince the garlic cloves and add them to the pot. Cook for a few minutes but watch carefully so the garlic does not burn. Add the herbs and spices to the pot and stir until fragrant.

Sauteing the herbs for a minute or two really makes a huge
difference in flavor and aroma in the food.
Add the undrained tomatoes and wine to the pot, and the pizza sauce. Stir well. Place the chicken pieces into the sauce. Cover, reduce heat and cook at least an hour, until chicken is cooked through. The longer you cook, the better the dish becomes. Serve the chicken and sauce over hot cooked pasta.

* I used home canned tomatoes. You can use 2 of the larger cans of chopped tomatoes, or 8 cups chopped fresh tomatoes.
** I used home canned pizza sauce. You can use 2 cups commercial pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce. If you use tomato sauce you may want to increase the basil and oregano a bit. I used pizza sauce because I had it on hand.

I had plenty of sauce leftover to make another whole dish too. You can also pop the leftover sauce into a container and freeze for future use. I like a thicker sauce so the majority of the cooking I did with the lid ajar, which lets steam out and helps evaporate the sauce, making it richer and thicker. The garlic melts in the tomato sauce, the onions and peppers taste so fresh and the herbs are classic Italian seasonings.

No comments:

Post a Comment