Went to another monthly car-club board meeting the other night, at our usual really dismal Italian restaurant. I keep searching the menu for something reasonably edible and not too expensive, and this time I figured I'd try the cacciatore. Well, the pasta was good - that always is - and the house marinara isn't bad. The chicken was OF COURSE breast, naturally overcooked, the sauce not bad, but the mushrooms were canned and the shreds of bell pepper still very crunchy. And with a couple glasses of Chianti, almost thirty bucks.
So yesterday I bought a Family Pack of chicken thighs - seven in all, is how they come at Fresh & Easy - and decided I'd like to have some GOOD cacciatore. I went looking for recipes, picked up some ideas from several sources on and offline, and discovered that this is one of the nicest, quickest, easiest Italian dishes I'd ever made, considering the number of ingredients. "Hunter's Chicken" indeed - this is something you really could make over a campfire!
Here's how it went:
chicken thighs - 4 to 8. Recipe is infinitely expandable...
flour for dredging
oil for browning, about 1/3 cup
1 lg. onion, sliced thin
1 or 2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2-4 cups sliced mushrooms
chopped or pressed garlic as desired
small handful dried oregano
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, w/juice
1-4 fresh tomatoes, cut up
8-12 oz. red wine
S&P as needed
Preheat oven to 350º
Season thighs and let sit for about an hour, covered. Dredge in flour. Heat large pot, add oil. When oil is hot, add thighs - cook in batches if necessary, just one layer at a time. Brown both sides and set aside.
Add onion, pepper, mushrooms, garlic and oregano to pot, still over fairly high heat. Stir constantly until onion is quite limp and beginning to brown. Return chicken to pot, stir to mix all together. Pour tomatoes and wine over all, stir, season to taste. Cover pot and place in center of oven.
Now cook a pot of pasta - macaroni, spaghetti or linguini are good with this. When the pasta is cooked and drained, the cacciatore should be ready. Serve on the pasta. (We've also had this over garlic mashed red potatoes, which was awfully good.)
Notice how instead of carefully cooking the onion and pepper, then removing those and sautéeing the mushrooms, in this version everything just goes in and cooks! And the tomatoes are pretty much left to fend for themselves, too. This really is Guy Cooking, and I enjoyed it a lot. Enjoyed eating it, too!
Okay, now I'm sure there are other things people like in there. Some recipes I saw called for capers, and I've had it made with bacon, though I think guanciale or prosciutto would be better. Any more suggestions or alternate methods?
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