Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora). This dish screams flavor, tenderness and such beauty in its color. One thing though, get some bread, and like an artist, press it into that sauce on the plate and scoop it up ready for the tasting. Buonissimo!
Song of the day: "Loving You is Easy" by Sarah McLachlan.
Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora). Great ingredients, a passion for cooking, plenty of fond memories, and a whole lotta love. That is what this dish is all about.
Imagine rich tomato sauce caressed by roasted peppers, capers, and olives all hugging nicely floured and sauteed chicken. A finale beyond words because the flavor and tenderness of this dish leave you speechless!
Cacciatore in Italian means hunter hence alla cacciatora means hunter-style. What does that mean? It means that this dish is prepared a certain way with certain ingredients like the hunters would have done years ago. I may have strayed a bit with the ingredients, but at the heart, this dish is Italian.
This dish comes from the region of Tuscany. I would describe Tuscany as our prairies. Rich in agriculture and a vegetable and livestock melting pot! Farmer's market heaven!
- Organic chicken
- Olive oil
- Seasonings of salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder
- D.O.P San Marzano tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Fresh basil
- Roasted red peppers
- Red peppers
- Fresh parsley
- Pinch of red chili flakes
- Last but not least, some white wine and vegetable stock
I have to say Nicoletta and her family have influenced me quite a bit in my sauce making. Add that to my memories of sauce stewing in the kitchen early Sunday morning and we have the makings of an amazing Sugo (tomato sauce). Those memories are fond ones, and indeed to this day bring water to my mouth and a craving of getting that wooden spoon and scooping that rich pulp from the bottom of the pot and making a sandwich. Today we are going to use the sauce making Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora).
This thought has brought back a memory. I was in school and we were talking about sandwiches. The teacher was asking what were our favorite sandwiches.
The kids were responding with ham and cheese, peanut butter and jam, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, and then there was me. All eyes were on me. Nervous and heart beating out of my chest, I softly said sauce sandwich. Everyone looked strange. You know when a face gets crinkled like it is in utter confusion or when you have something bitter and your face contorts, well that was the look on classmates' faces....... I reiterated that they didn't know good food, only ______t! Not out loud, of course, only in the safety of my mind, lol.
The Changing moment
They didn't know what I knew. One might think, what? A sauce in a sandwich? How absurd! What they didn't know was how sweet that tomato pulp was and how it softened the rustic Italian pagnotta. The only thing holding this glorious sandwich together was the crunchy crust. Talk about amazing. Utterly amazing! It was only till some of my friends got to try that treat that they knew I was onto something big!
I love this part. Most of you know I like to play with my food. My belief is, the more hands-on, the more love you can infuse into the dish. So the onions and celery are sauteing, in goes the capers and red peppers. Time to get those beautiful elongated tomatoes into the pan. First, wash hands, secondly grab those beauties and squish and crush them in between your fingers. This would be a great opportunity to get kids involved!
Do not squeeze too fast and hard because it may cause a tomato explosion. When you are handling the tomatoes go slow and gentle and remember only good and loving thoughts!
Look at that sauce, do you not just want to dive right in with some good bread, just because?
You may have heard us say this before. Scarpetta means to clean your plate with the bread. However, we have to wait to clean our plates. First, we have to get this Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) done!
This recipe is about building flavors. We talked about the tomatoes, however, we have not really touched on the chicken.
Well now is as good a time as any. The chicken is first seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder. Then we are going to flour the chicken but we also need to season the flour. I told you flavor building, no kidding right!
Sounds of sizzling
The chicken is braised in a hot pan of olive oil and butter. This gets a nice golden and even char crust on the surface building even more flavor. Noteworthy is that sound of the chicken frying in the pan..........
It is music to my ears and hunger growls to my stomach.
Time to pull it together
- Firstly we made the sauce.
- Secondly, we seasoned, floured the chicken and braised it to golden deliciousness.
- Thirdly we put the sauce over the chicken. I poured some white wine and vegetable stock. This will give a deep richness to the chicken and sauce as it slowly seeps down into the crevices and spaces between the chicken.
- Finally into the oven to work some magic, but first................
Now we need some finishing touches. I pitted some Italian olives and also chopped some fresh flat-leaf parsley. This symphony is ready for the oven!
You cannot believe the aroma in the house. Rich tomato sauce, wine, olives, capers, this is going to be so so good.
I just wanted to talk a bit about the baking. Firstly started it on high heat for about 30 minutes and also covered it. Secondly took the foil off and lowered the heat and let it simmer in the oven for another 45 minutes.
Look how beautiful and caramelized the sauce became. I have to say I had a hard time using a fork to serve the chicken, it was falling apart. Out come the tongs. In true Loreto style and honoring my inner child, I served the Pollo alla Cacciatora on a beautiful crostini.
OMG, the chicken is just falling apart. So moist and tender, because it just melts in your mouth. I love how the sauce just waltzes with the chicken. I am getting those nice hits from the olives and that wonderful acidity from the capers, and that nice white wine backdrop. Love that little bit of spice from the chili flakes.
Of course, let's not forget the onions and celery adding a wonderful sweetness, and that smokiness from the red peppers is just wonderful! My mouth is in heaven right now. However, just when I think I am done, I get some of that sauce saturated bread and it is so comforting. If you could see me now, you would see that child smiling!
This dish is extravagance in a poor man's kitchen sort of way. Simple ingredients, loving preparation, and utter gratitude to be able to share this Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora).
Song of the day: "Loving You is Easy" by Sarah McLachlan.Print
- 3 organic free-range chicken legs
- 4 organic free-range chicken thighs bone in and skin on
- 2 organic free-range chicken ½ breasts skin on and bone in
- Sprinkling of sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, dried marjoram, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- sea salt, crushed black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Sprinkling of dried marjoram
- ½ tsp onion powder
- Pinch of paprika
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 2 roasted red peppers.
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Pinch of red chili flakes
- 1 Tbsp capers
- 2 large cans d.o.p. San Marzano tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste.
- Handful of fresh torn basil leaves
- Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 small glass white wine
- ½ cup vegetable stalk (if you prefer you can use chicken stalk)
- A good handful of pitted and halved Italian olives (I used Castelvetrano)
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and dry peppers and place on the top rack of the oven.
- Place a pan directly below the peppers on the bottom rack to catch any juices.
- Grill till peppers are nice and charred, take out of oven and place in a plastic bag for a few minutes.
- Take out of bag and peel charred skin off and take seeds and core out.
- Chop into small pieces and set aside.
- Wash and pat dry chicken.
- Season with salt, pepper, paprika, marjoram, onion and garlic powder on both sides.
- In a bowl whisk flour with all the seasonings.
- Take the chicken pieces and coat with flour mixture and place in a dish.
- In a large saute pan heat up olive oil and butter.
- Place chicken in skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until a nice dark golden brown. If there is not enough room in the pan for all the chicken do it in two batches.
- Place braised chicken in a 12"x 14" deep baking dish.
- In the same pan where the chicken was braised toss in garlic, onion and celery and saute for about 10 minutes.
- Add in roasted peppers.
- Toss in capers and cook for an additional 1 minute.
- Take the canned tomatoes and gently squeeze and crush them with your hands into the pan.
- Add a handful of fresh torn basil.
- Put in tomato paste and stir until blended.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Pour sauce over chicken in baking dish.
- Gently pour in white wine and vegetable stalk.
- Sprinkle with olives and chopped parsley, and cover with tin foil.
- Place in oven and bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes, then turn heat to 350° F, take off foil and cook for an additional 45 minutes.
- Take out of oven and serve with olive oil and garlic crostini.
- Finish with a splash of olive oil.
- Ready to serve.
- You can use any chicken pieces you like. I used a variety so I could please many palates at the table.
- Try and use really good organic ingredients.
- You can make this ahead of time then place it in the oven to warm when ready to serve.
- I served the dish with some crostini brushed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
- If you can't find the San Marzano tomatoes, a good quality Roma tomato will do too.
- You can do the roasted red peppers ahead of time.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Category: Poultry
- Method: Frying/baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: organic, free range, chicken, san marzano tomatoes, basil, marjoram, olives, olive oil, capers, onions, garlic, celery,
When I am not cooking, I enjoy playing musical instruments, singing, writing. I have learned over the years to live in gratitude and enjoy the moment.