Originally a hunter’s stew, chicken cacciatore is a dish that can be prepared with minimal fuss. Some say that the really traditional cacciatore does not include tomatoes, uses dark meat only and the cooked dish is brown with a thick gravy-like sauce. This version is adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis, uses white wine instead of red and includes a can of chopped tomatoes.
It was quite a challenge photographing this dish. Seemed to me that no matter from which angle I took photos, it just looked like an indecipherable mush. It’s one of those dishes where the appearance cannot even hope to approximate the wonderful flavors and textures. Chicken cacciatore is one of the satisfying stews I have ever cooked. Homey, simple to prepare, and it makes you just want to mop up every drop of the sauce. The Italians do that with bread; this is Asia so we enjoy our chicken cacciatore with rice.
Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)
- 1 kilogram chicken (I used a whole chicken, minus the breast), cut up
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup olive oil (does not have to be extra virgin)
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned, but please don’t use tomato sauce)
- 3 to 4 sprigs oregano leaves stripped and stalks discarded
- 1-1/2 cups white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons capers
Heat the olive oil in a large wide pan.
Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour; shake off the excess. Brown in the hot oil, turning to brown all sides evenly. You are NOT cooking it through at this point but merely browning the chicken to form a crust that, later, will really add so much texture to the cooked dish. Remove the chicken from the pan.
To the remaining oil and drippings, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about a minute or until the onion pieces start to soften and turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and white wine. Boil gently for about two minutes. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer. Sprinkle the oregano leaves over them. Add the bay leaf. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for about an hour. I do not recommend stirring.
When the sauce is thick, add the capers. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens some more and the mixture appears almost dry. Towards the end of cooking, add more salt and pepper, if needed. But if you seasoned your chicken well, there should be no need for additional salt and pepper as the white wine provides all the flavors the chicken needs.
Chicken cacciatore goes well with crusty bread, rice or pasta.
If you’re wondering what wine is best for cooking chicken cacciatore, I suggest fruity semi-sweet wines which will offset the sour notes of the tomatoes wonderfully.