I have to admit that I love braised meats, especially braised chicken.
Braise means to lightly fry and then stew it slowly, covered.
I’m a personal chef by trade, cooking right in my clients’ homes. When I prepare a dish that calls for braised meats, the unmistakable sound of searing meat and the aromas that accompany it—that’s what gets attention.
Chicken cacciatore is an Italian dish of chicken braised in a tomato-based sauce and often includes mushrooms. It is frequently referred to as “hunter style” chicken. Cacciatore is the Italian word for hunter, and I’ve heard that if the hunter came home empty handed, the wife would throw a chicken in the pot instead.
Chicken thighs, which have a lot of taste, combine with the rich flavor of the mushrooms to make a complex and satisfying dish.
This classic Italian dish must have hundreds of versions, all resulting in a rustic braise of chicken, aromatic vegetables and tomatoes
My version includes mushrooms, zucchini, and black olives.
I must have some Italian mixed in with my French Canadian roots.
Serve this classic dish over rice or pasta. Trust me when I tell you that this dish will get their attention.
This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2-1/4 lb.)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- ½ red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- ⅓ cup dry red wine (like Chianti)
- 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp. chopped
- 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
- Pinch crushed red chile flakes
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
- ½ lb. white mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup pitted black olives, quartered
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; more for garnish
- Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add half the thighs and brown them well, 2 to 3 min. per side. Transfer to a large plate. Brown the remaining thighs and reserve with the rest.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, red pepper, and garlic. Season generously with salt and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits, until the onion softens and browns, about 12 min. Turn the heat to high, add the wine, and cook until it’s almost completely reduced, about 2 min. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and their juices, the thyme sprigs, rosemary, and chile flakes. Nestle the chicken into the sauce and add any accumulated juices. Cook, stirring for 10 min. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar, and stew the chicken, turning it occasionally, until it’s cooked through another 15-20 min. If you like, discard the thyme sprigs, rosemary, and garlic.
- When the stew is almost done, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the zucchini. Season well with salt and pepper; sauté until the zucchini is tender and lightly browned, 3 to 4 min. Transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, 3 to 4 min. Add the olives and chopped thyme, return the zucchini to the pan, and toss. Fold the zucchini mixture and the parsley into the stew. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of parsley.
Category: Main Dishes