How to Make Chicken Cacciatore
Start with your largest skillet for this much-adored Italian braise. Chicken, mushrooms, and onions slow-simmer in a tomato-wine sauce that is rustic and full of flavor. Serve it over pasta for a hearty dinner.
Chicken cacciatore [kah-chuh-TOH-ray] is the American-Italian name for pollo alla cacciatora, which means "hunter-style chicken." While this dish is typically made with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, wine, and herbs, regional variations exist all over Italy.
Gather Key Ingredients
- Chicken: For six servings, start with 2-1/2 to 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces. This can mean six bone-in chicken breast halves or a combination of breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks.
- Mushrooms: White button mushrooms work well here, but so do cremini, baby portobello, or wild mushrooms. Clean them with a damp paper towel, wiping one at a time, or with a soft mushroom brush.
- Tomatoes: Opt for one 14-1/2-ounce can plain diced tomatoes or substitute diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano; fire-roasted diced tomatoes; organic diced tomatoes; or no-salt-added diced tomatoes.
- Wine: Choose a bottle of wine that you would like to drink with this dish since you will only need about 1/2 to 3/4 cup for the sauce. An Italian dry white wine, such as a Soave or a dry Sauvignon Blanc are good choices. Use chicken broth for a nonalcoholic substitute.
- Pasta: Chicken cacciatore is often served over pasta. Fettuccine and linguine are good options because the sauce coats the long strands of pasta, leaving less sauce on the plate. Boost the nutrition by choosing a multigrain, whole grain, or spinach option. Plan on 6 ounces dried pasta for six servings, and cook according to package directions.
- Herbs: Dried Italian seasoning is typical. Start with 1 teaspoon and adjust the seasoning to taste. You can also use fresh herbs such as thyme and oregano. Keep in mind that 1 teaspoon dried herb equals about 1 tablespoon fresh. You can also sprinkle on a garnish of snipped fresh basil (or small leaves) or snipped Italian parsley before serving.
Prep the Ingredients
- While you don't have to skin the chicken pieces, you will cut out several grams of fat if you do. To skin the chicken, use a paper towel to grip the skin and pull it away from the meat. For drumsticks, start at the meaty end and pull downward toward the bony end. Use kitchen shears if needed to detach the skin from the chicken pieces.
- Place cleaned mushrooms on a cutting board. Trim thin slices from the ends of the stems with a sharp knife. Slice the mushrooms from the tops through the stems. Eight ounces of mushrooms yields about 3 cups sliced mushrooms, which is what you'll need for one recipe of chicken cacciatore that serves six.
Saute the Chicken and Vegetables
- In a very large skillet heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil over medium heat.
- Add the chicken to the hot oil and cook about 15 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides of the chicken. Remove the chicken, reserving the drippings in the skillet. Set the chicken pieces aside.
- Add the sliced mushrooms, one sliced onion, and one clove garlic, minced, to the skillet. Cook and stir the vegetables until tender, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.
Simmer the Sauce
- In a medium bowl combine the diced tomatoes, one 6-ounce can tomato paste, 1/2 to 3/4 cup wine, dried Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper. Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar is optional and a matter of preference. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken in the skillet.
- Bring the tomato mixture to boiling. Reduce heat to low or medium low; cover the skillet.
- Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken pieces are no longer pink inside, turning once.
Tip: Use an instant-read thermometer to accurately test for doneness . Insert the thermometer, avoiding the bone. Breasts are done at 170 degrees F and thighs and drumsticks are done at 180 degrees F.
Serve Over Pasta
Divide the hot cooked pasta among six dinner plates. Use a large serving spoon and tongs if needed to top the pasta with the chicken cacciatore. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs.