Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

When I was a girl, birthday dinners were a huge deal. Each year, my mother would ask me what I wanted for MY birthday dinner. And each year, the answer was the same -- chicken cacciatore and cherry pie. To this day, the smell of chicken and peppers simmering away on the stove takes me back. Way back. Back to the days when a bowl of chicken cacciatore could rectify any wrongs. And cherry pie healed all wounds.

These days it take a bit more than cherry pie to heal what ails me (especially if you're referring to the nasty viral infection that hit me this past week). But, a good pot of cacciatore still goes a long way in turning around a bad day.

This cacciatore is a recipe we've made over and over, tweaking it to the extent that we can make it pretty much with our eyes closed. Since cacciatore recipes vary greatly, this one is probably just as authentic (or inauthentic) as any. The possible twist is that it contains artichoke hearts in addition to the (prerequisite) peppers.

Start off with a few staples from your spice cupboard -- a bay leaf, some basil, some oregano, red pepper flakes, and a bit of thyme. Take a photo, if you like... herbs tend to be serious attention hogs at our house, so we like to patronize them a bit.
For me, the mainstay of any cacciatore is sweet peppers. This is the perfect recipe to use up some of those beautiful peppers you've frozen from the previous summer's bounty. But, if you're out of those (as we are by now), you can feel free to substitute fresh peppers from the market.
You'll also want a few nice fresh chicken thighs -- which you'll coat with a bit of seasoned flour and brown up nicely in your Dutch oven.
Then, saute your peppers with some onions and garlic. Add a bit of tomato paste and those delectable seasonings...
And then throw in a bit of red wine. Once the wine reduces, you'll want to add more canned tomatoes to the mix.
And then nestle those chicken thighs back into the pot.
Put a cover on your pot and slip it into a moderate oven for about 40 minutes or so...
And wait patiently. When the pot comes out, and you remove the cover, it's going to smell positively divine. You'll want to remove the chicken thighs for a bit, stir in some artichoke hearts (yes, see, this is where things start getting really good), and allow them to heat through. Then, add the chicken back in and get ready to serve.
This cacciatore is nice on a bed of mashed potatoes... or rice. You also can't beat serving this with some nice crusty (garlic) bread to mop up all that delicious sauce.

I really like to pull the leftover chicken off the bone and serve it for dinner the next night with pasta. In fact, leftover chicken cacciatore makes some of the best baked ziti you've ever had in your life when tossed with pasta and a bit of mozzarella cheese and then baked for 30-40 minutes. Gosh, just the thought of it gets my saliva glands working over time.

Make it quick, before the spring breezes carry you away!

Chicken Cacciatore


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34 comments:

  1. This might sound crazy, but I dont think I have ever made chicken cacciatore.

    Now homemade cherry pie on the other hand is my FAVORITE dessert....actually have never made that either but growing up we had three cherry trees and mom made the best cherry pie!

    I have the same cold...it's terrible.

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  2. This looks amazing - I love the idea of tossing it with pasta the next night and baking it. YUM. I will have to get this on the table sometime soon.

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  3. I love food like that! It is easy & the oven does most of the work!! Looks good!!! MMMMM....

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  4. Although I'm not eating stuff like this right now (spring cleanse time), it looks wonderful and I've lifted the recipe and am saving it for later. But what I really wanted to comment on was your introduction to this post. It was wonderful! You are so right -- certain foods bring us back with warm memories of special times. I love the way you expressed that (you're a good writer) and it immediately brought me back to the chocolate cake my mom made on my birthday. My son always wants strawberry shortcake on his birthday. :-)

    Great post and I'm definitely going to make your chicken dish later!

    Happy springtime (although it's cold and snowy here)!
    Melissa

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  5. wow! this is one dish that actually makes me wish the cold season never left! actually, scratch that, I could eat it any season! bring it over!

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  6. That looks very different from the cacciatore my mom used to make... and much better. Not that I would admit to saying that if she asked. ;)

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  7. This looks so good, chicken cacciatore is one of those classics that is always delicious!

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  8. What great memories and an even better dish...wow, one of my all time faves.

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  9. This looks amazing! I've never made this and don't remember ever having it as a kid. I've been missing out! And I bet that ziti is off the charts.

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  10. I love chicken cacciatore, all those peppers! It doesn't get any better than this!

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  11. thanks for the comment! I've got to say, I love your name (burping high five!)

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  12. Cherry pie and chicken cacciatore? That's a lot of red.

    If I wanted cherry pie on my birthday though, I'd have to make it myself. No one ever bakes pies for me.

    Great idea of using the leftovers in baked ziti. Wow.

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  13. How brave of you, to show the inside of your oven! I'm afraid that if I did that, well, I'd lose my cred as a foodie. I love, love, love the gorgeous peppers!

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  14. I can't wait to use the recipe in a couple of weeks, will it work with chicken breasts? I don't really like thighs

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  15. I just bookmarked the recipe as this is definitely one that I want to try at a later stage! Sounds lovely!!

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  16. I've never had that, but I want it. Now.

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  17. Now that does look like a meal that would make you feel warm and good inside. The picture of all those peppers is great.

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  18. I love those little sweet peppers almost as much as I love your shiny red Le Creuset. The cacciatore is gorgeous too, I guess. ;)

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  19. You can't go wrong with cacciatore. And it's even better as leftovers.

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  20. Lo that looks insanely good! I made chicken cacciatore (in the slow cooker) for the first time this year and loved it. I don't like thighs could I use breasts instead and does it have to be on the bone? Will I need to cook it that long then? I'm terrible about overcooking meats if I'm not careful.
    ~ingrid

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  21. Danielle and Ingrid - I'm sure this would be delightful with chicken breasts; however, you'll want to adjust the cooking time accordingly. We love thighs for their full flavor; they're also extremely forgiving when it comes to long cooking times (breasts not so much)! I'd also anticipate that you could use boneless breasts. Again, adjust the cooking time accordingly, as they'll cook faster than bone-in cuts.

    Becky - Showing my oven... brave or insane? Not sure at this point. The only thing I can say is, my oven is WELL-USED and WELL-LOVED. And it looks the part :)

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  22. I love your red pot! Oh and the dish is lovely as well :)

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  23. LOVE your version of this dish. the one I use is much plainer, Ihave to try this way!

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  24. This is such a classic recipe, but I've never had it before. It looks rich and flavorful!

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  25. Lo, gorgeous from the herb blend to the peppers and right down to the final result...send that to my belly!

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  26. Chicken Cacciatore is my husband's favorite birthday dinner too! Made with thighs, of course. But he likes blueberry pie, so that's what I made for his last birthday.

    Our recipe is similar to yours, but I LOVE the addition of artichokes! I'm adding them next time.

    What kind of herbs do you use? They look so beautiful for dried herbs. I got a free sample of frozen herbs recently that I really love. They are the closest to fresh that I have ever tried.

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  27. Laurie - We used a bay leaf, some basil, some oregano, red pepper flakes, and a bit of thyme... I buy most of my herbs from Penzey's spices. Really great for dried...

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  28. if you make me that chicken I'll make you a cherry pie anyday- we have montmerency cherries here- and I still have 4 bags in the freezer from last june- yes it is time to pull some out and get to baking!!! sorry you had a cold- hope you're doing better!

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  29. That chicken looks really tasty!

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  30. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Betty

    http://desktopmemory.info

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  31. growing up this was my dad's favorite
    beautiful recipe...
    i love the day #2 option

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  32. Thanks for the Chicken cacciatore recipe. Last summer I ate them at a party and has been looking for an authentic recipe ever since. Now I will be able to make them myself. Thanks again.

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