Chicken Cacciatore

When Jim and I first met, I started gathering simple recipes to cook for us. Chicken Cacciatore made the early list. It was so easy that I even made it while tent camping one year. Over the last decade, I have adapted that first iteration and still make changes based on what I have on hand. At it's most basic form I simmer strips of red bell pepper with onion and tomatoes, then settle seared chicken into the sauce to braise until cooked through.


There was a time I only used boneless skinless chicken breasts and I know I still have readers who do the same. I know because you email me and I feel you 100% on this conviction. "Ugly chicken" as I called it was a travesty, and I used to have Jim trim the "ugly" off boneless skinless chicken breasts before I would handle them. Through years of taste testing recipes, I can confirm that the experts were right all along, and chicken thighs definitely have more flavor. Leaving the skin on chicken thighs while cooking also keeps it from drying out. Before I go down the rabbit hole of what chicken to use when, let me just end this by saying use whatever chicken you are comfortable using, even if it means you trim the ugly parts off first.



Ingredients

Olive oil and butter (I like California Olive Ranch EVOO, and I use about a tablespoon each of oil and butter)

Chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 large shallots, minced (or use yellow onion, sliced into strips)

2 large red bell peppers, sliced into strips

10 ounces white mushrooms (I chop mine pretty small)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons flour

1.5 cups white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock (I like Better than Bouillon mixed with water)

1 can diced tomatoes (15 ounces)

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (or use 1 teaspoon of dried ground thyme)

1 bay leaf

1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (2 inches, about 1 ounce), optional


Sear chicken

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat equal parts oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook, not moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes. Do not crowd the pan so if you have to sear the chicken in batches, do it. Using tongs, flip chicken and brown on the second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer browned chicken to plate and set aside.


Build flavorful sauce

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Add shallots, bell pepper, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring, until moisture evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.


If your chicken has skin, discard it now, it will just turn yuck when you put the chicken back in the Dutch oven to braise.


Add garlic to the pot and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook, continually stirring, about 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay, cheese rind (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.


Braise and serve

Submerge chicken pieces and any juices that have accumulated on the plate in the Dutch oven and bring to boil; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning chicken pieces with tongs halfway through cooking. Discard cheese rind, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.


You can serve this solo in a bowl, or on top of rice, couscous, or potatoes.

© 2018 by Mandy Begley | Leander, Texas

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