Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

This dish started with a recipe at some point, likely from The Washington Post, but I haven't referenced one in years.  I eat a lot of chicken so I am constantly looking for things to do with it.  I had cacciatore at a friend's house many many years ago and have been making it and tweaking the recipe ever since.  Its a great hearty comfort food that isn't too heavy.  I think at this point, my mish-mash of ingredients is quite consistent from batch to batch so I thought I should finally write it down.  Here goes!

(enough for multiple servings)

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
1 large or 1 ½ medium yellow onions, cut in a large dice
3-4 Bell peppers, cut in a large dice (definitely use at least one green for that peppery flavor)
3 cloves garlic, minced (or about 1 tsp garlic powder)
2 28oz cans tomatoes (stewed or diced work very well, but for this batch I used whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes that I mashed up in the pot)
1 small can tomato sauce (optional/if necessary, depends on how thick you want the sauce)
Couple splashes of wine (white preferred but red will work in a pinch)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried parsley
Couple pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil


In a large pot with some olive oil, cook the chicken on medium-high heat until just beginning to brown on all sides.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and anything else you may like (I highly recommend McCormick Chicken Seasoning).  When starting to brown, remove from pot and set aside - it will finish cooking later in the sauce.

Add the onion and garlic to the pot with a little more olive oil if necessary.  Cook until the onion begins to become translucent, then add the peppers.  Cook for a few minutes until the onions and peppers have softened.  Add the tomatoes and sauce, if using, followed by all of the herbs, wine and cayenne.  Give everything a good stir then turn down the heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes add the chicken back to the pot, including any juices that have accumulated.  Stir to combine and once again, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Do this one or two more times, tasting each time to see if you need to add anything - more spices, garlic, salt, etc.

After 30 minutes or so of simmering you should be good to go!  I have seen cacciatore served over both rice and pasta. I personally prefer rice and I typically use long grain brown rice - gotta make sure the carbs you take in are healthy ones, right?  One note - a general rule of thumb, at least in my kitchen, is that rice should almost always be cooked in some sort of broth or stock rather than water, its a great way to add a little more flavor.  For this dish, I use chicken broth.  Enjoy!