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September 12, 2007 / Tony

Chicken Cacciatore


Chicken cacciatore is one of those dishes that everyone sort of thinks they like but almost never make (see also Turkey Tetrazzini).  I admit that it’s the same for me.  I hardly ever make this dish but every time I make it, I love it, especially with the variations I put on the Joy of Cooking recipe that I used as a springboard.  I’m not exactly sure what happens but this dish somehow evokes an unbelievably sophisticated sweetness that is dynamite with the tender and moist chicken.  The sweetness is there but it’s not cloying or overpowering, it’s just so pleasant.  And it is cut by the saltiness of the olives and the acidity from the red wine and tomatoes.  You really should try this at home.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. 

The picture above shows my final product.  I served it over Ethereal Mashed Potatoes made with russet potatoes instead of Yukon Gold.  (Hey, you have to use up what you have on hand.)  It was a glorious combination.  Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Cacciatore, based on a recipe from The Joy of Cooking

2 bone in chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry

Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ribs of celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 T fresh rosemary, chopped

1 T fresh sage, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

12 oz tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup oil cured olives, pitted

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a heavy pot that is large enough to comfortably hold the chicken breast when lidded (a Dutch oven is ideal).  Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and sear on both sides, starting with the skin side down.  After achieving some nice color on the chicken, remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions, celery, carrots, and herbs.  Cook over medium heat until the onions begin to caramelize.  Then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Do not let the garlic brown or the dish will taste bitter.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine (I used a fruity Italian red) and cook until almost all of the wine has evaporated.  Return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices.  Add the chicken broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and then turn the heat to low.  Simmer in this manner for 25 minutes or until the chicken is just about done.  Uncover the pot, turn the heat to high, add the olives, and reduce the pan juices until they become a sauce-like consistency.  Taste and adjust any seasonings.  Serve immediately. 

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