Those of you who have read the posts from our trip to Italy and especially Umbria might remember that our cooking instructor showed us how to make classic chicken cacciatore (see Cooking Lessons in Umbria). I gave a brief description of the dish but not a complete recipe. I have now tried this on my own and can now tell you exactly how to make this great dish.
If you Google “chicken cacciatore” you see hundreds of recipes, almost all of which include tomatoes, and most have a variety of other vegetables, mushrooms and miscellaneous “stuff”. Actually, that is not the way the original classic Italian recipe – which is from Umbria – goes. It is really a lot simpler – chicken, onions, garlic, wine, chicken stock and herbs.
This dish is so good, it’s crazy. It is perfect for a dinner party. You can make it ahead of time and warm when ready to eat. Your guests will consume every last bite. They will be so excited that you’d think they had just discovered garage door openers or sex.
Here’s how you do it.
Time Required: 1.5 – 2 hours to prepare. About 1 – 1.5 hours to cook. Allow 3 hours in total.
Level of Difficulty: 4.0 out of 10
- 1 whole chicken – organic if possible – cut up with skin on
- ½ cup of flour
- 1 tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Pepper
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion – chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic – minced
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 1 bottle of white wine
- 2 tbsp. butter
- I cup of herbs –thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil or whatever you have – coarsely chopped
- 2 cups Jasmine rice
- 5-1/2 qt. stock pot – for chicken
- 3-1/2 qt. sauce pan with lid – for the rice
- Cut up the chicken into thighs, legs, wings and breasts. Discard the rest. Cut the breast into two or three pieces. I like to cut out the filet and then cut the remainder in half. Pat dry with paper towel.
- Mix the flour, salt and pepper together on a plate.
- Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in the sauté pan over medium high heat.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, shake off excess and put pieces into the pan to brown – about 3 minutes on each side. Remove and cover with aluminum foil.
- Add one more tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the onions. As the onions are finishing, add the garlic.
- Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and ¾ of the bottle of wine. Save the last of the wine for yourself.
- Add the herbs, butter and the chicken. Check for salt and pepper. You will probably have to add a little of both. Stir well, bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer, uncovered, for about one hour or until the liquid is reduced to at least one-half and has a thick consistency. However, don’t reduce too much – you need at least 2 cups of sauce. If you reduce too much, add a little more chicken broth.
- For the jasmine rice, bring two cups of water to a boil, add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp. butter and the two cups of jasmine rice. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a slow simmer. Cover and cook untouched for 10 minutes. Turn heat to lowest possible setting and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
You can also serve this dish over pasta, but the fragrant jasmine rice, in my opinion, works best. Serve with some Italian style green beans or some lemon broccoli. Don’t forget a good Italian white wine – maybe a Gavi di Gavi or an Orvieto Classico.