Lately life’s been very busy to the point that I really, really want it to slow down but alas it’s not within my power. What is within my power however, is to simplify our dinners. Ideally, they should be all one pot meals- less prep, less clean-up. So I’ve been on a lookout for worthy recipes.
Chicken Cacciatore aka Pollo alla Cacciatora in Italian is well known outside of its country of origin but I can’t say it’s quite as tasty.
Every time I’ve had it at an Italian restaurant in North America it tasted like a piece of fried chicken smothered in a basic…read ‘bland”… marinara sauce, which gave me an impression that all Italian food tasted the same.
On my very first trip to Italy a few years ago I quickly learned that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Cacciatore sauce is not just an extension of marinara sauce that’s been pimped up with some chicken. It has a taste of its own and a great one at that!
So why make this chicken cacciatore?
First of all, it’s delicious with surprising crisp chicken and a mildly tangy tomato sauce, infused with aromas of rosemary and garlic, rounded off with good old red wine.
Secondly, it mostly cooks itself in the oven while you could be doing something much more interesting with your time.
Those two reasons make it an amazing everyday meal option and a stunning dinner party idea.
Making Chicken Cacciatore involves 3 easy steps
- Marinating it in red wine, rosemary, garlic.
- Browning it in olive oil.
- Making the sauce.
Listen up, friends, this sauce is oh so delicious. Promise me you will make it because you gotta. You just do. Promise?
Alright, now I feel confident to reveal the secret ingredient. No, not olives seeing that they are in the picture below. The secret ingredient is anchovies.
Don’t be scared, the sauce tastes NOTHING like fish. All anchovies do is add salt and complexity to the tomato sauce.
They disintegrate into the sauce, so no one will even know they were there in the first place.
After you’ve done those 3 steps your job is done and your oven takes over. Just pop it in at 350F/180C for 1 hour and a beautiful mouthwatering chicken is ready.
- 3 lbs - chicken pieces
- freshly ground black pepper
- 8 - bay leaves
- 2 sprigs - fresh rosemary
- 5 cloves garlic peeled (3 crushed, 2 sliced)
- ½ bottle - dry red wine of your choice
- flour for dusting
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 - anchovy fillets
- 1/2 cup - green or black olives pitted
- 2 x 400 g - chopped plum tomatoes canned
- Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them in a a bowl or a resealable plastic bag, add rosemary leaves, bay leaves and 3 cloves of crushed garlic and red wine. Marinade overnight or at least for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C
- Take chicken pieces out of marinade, dredge them in flour and brown evenly in hot olive oil in a large pan. Reserve the marinade. Chicken doesn't have to be cooked all the way through at this stage. If all of your chicken pieces don't fit, brown them in batches and remove on a separate plate.
- Add remaining sliced garlic, anchovies and olives to the pan and cook for a minute.
- Add canned tomatoes, reserved marinade and chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil and put it in the oven at 350F/180C for 1 hour.
- Serve with crusty bread or rice. Chicken Cacciatore is also delicious with Borlotti beans as a carb free option.