Monday, July 18, 2011

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

I love Chicken Cacciatore.  There are so many different versions of this dish.   

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

In case you're not familiar with the history of this classic, Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian.  "Alla Cacciatore" means "hunter-style" chicken.  In Italy, it is also often prepared with rabbit.

In Northern Italy, white wine in added.  In Southern Italy cooks use red wine.  So, I guess my version would be considered more Southern Italy.   I used peppers grown right from my own patio garden. 

At any rate, it is delicioso; a meal and wine that Tony Soprano and the boys would truly enjoy.  I use chicken leg quarters because they are economical and rustic, just like this dish.

Cook’s Notes: 

I recommend cooking this chicken with the skin on. It keeps the chicken juicy and moist.  You need that little bit of fat from the skin to flavor the sauce.  You can certainly remove the skin before you eat if you like, or splurge and eat it like I do. No pasta is needed with this recipe so you’re already cutting calories there. 

This recipe is for two, but as always, you can double or triple it.

3 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 Chicken Leg Quarters, cleaned and trimmed of excess fat
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 cup sliced Bell Peppers (any color)
1 medium Sweet Onion, sliced
1 cup sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon Butter
¼ cup Chianti wine
1 cup Diced Tomato with Garlic and Onion
1 cup of good quality store-bought Marinara Sauce (Suggest Gia Russa*)
1 cup Chicken Broth
½  tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 dried Bay Leaves
2 tablespoons Philadelphia Brand Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
6 torn Basil Leaves
Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese, for passing at the table

Add two tablespoons of the olive oil to hot pan.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.**  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add peppers, onions and mushrooms and cook for three minutes.  Add butter and cook vegetables until softened and mushrooms begin to brown.

Add wine and deglaze, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add tomatoes, Marinara sauce and broth.  Stir in Italian Seasoning.  Add Bay Leaves. 

Return chicken to pan.  (Braising liqued should come about half way up the chicken once returned to the pan). 

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  Cover and continue to cook for 45 minutes until chicken is falling off of the bone.  Stir occasionally while simmering.  I like to turn the chicken over about half way through the braising process.

Remove chicken.  Plate and keep warm. 

Return sauce to boil and reduce for about five-to-ten minutes, until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. 

Turn heat off and stir in cooking creme.

Top chicken with a little of the sauce, torn basil leaves and grated cheese. 
Serve with a side of the sauce.  Serve with steamed broccoli.

Tonight’s wine pairing: Bolla 2009 Chianti.
(only $8.99/bottle)

The fresh plum, black-cherry and raspberry flavors pair wonderfully with this savory Italian favorite. 

Don’t drink wine? 
Try this dish with Mint Iced Tea! 

*Not a paid endorsement.

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