Chicken cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore gets hearty flavor boost from sweet peppers, earthy cremini mushrooms and briny olives. (TCA Photo)

You may know this dish by other names, like chicken cacciatore or hunter-style chicken. It was my dad's favorite dish, and I loved cooking it for him. No matter what the season, he loved chicken in a rustic tomato sauce with lots of peppers. I like to serve this cacciatore in the cooler months since it is a substantial dish.

There are many versions of this classic Southern Italian dish. This one is particularly hearty with the addition of mushrooms, sweet peppers and pitted olives. I like to use chicken breasts, but you can use a whole cut-up chicken or thighs, if you prefer. The chicken tastes even better if the dish is made a day ahead.

Variations

  • Omit 2 chicken breasts and add 1 pound sliced cooked sausage.
  • Use white wine instead of red for a lighter flavor.
  • Use boneless chicken breasts cut into 2-inch pieces and cook for about 10 minutes in step 4 instead of 20 minutes.

Braised chicken with tomatoes, peppers and red wine

Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 48 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts halves, about 1/2 pound each
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 bottle or can (24 ounces) favorite marinara sauce
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juice
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon each, dried: basil, oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pitted black olives, such as kalamata or green olives
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Cook the chicken, turning to evenly brown, 3-4 minutes per side. (You may have to do this in batches.) Transfer to a platter.

2. Add the remaining oil to the skillet; cook the onionsuntil softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and peppers; cook until slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook, 1 minute.

3. Pour in the red wine. Heat to a boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and herbs; season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low; simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened and no wine taste remains, 10 minutes.

4. Add the reserved chicken; simmer on medium heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Off the heat, add the balsamic vinegar and olives. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished with parsley.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: calories, g fat, g saturated fat, mg cholesterol, g carbohydrates, g protein, mg sodium, g fiber.

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