Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. Chasseur means hunter in French. Chicken “Hunter Style” has as many versions as there are cultures and regions. The Spanish version utilizes olives, the Polish version utilizes cabbage. Chicken Cacciatore consists of whatever the hunters could forage. Typically it was made with wild fowl, rabbit or pigeon, mushrooms, onions, wine and tomatoes. Although tomatoes are not indigenous to Europe, they were grown domestically. The hunters would always leave the house with a couple of tomatoes, a satchel of pasta or rice, a bottle of wine and yesterday’s leftover bread. They prepared a hearty lunch mid day in the woods.
Today we need not forage farther than our local market for all we need to make delicious “Chicken Cacciatore”. The original recipes would utilize the whole chicken or rabbit with the bones which would then be stewed. This version utilizes boneless breasts so it does not require hours of stewing.
Here’s my recipe.
• 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 3 Ripe, plum tomatoes, diced
• 2 Shallots, finely diced or 1 cooking onion, diced
• 2 Big handfuls of mushrooms, button or mixed, quartered
• 1 Big splash of white wine
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• ½ Cup of flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
• 4 Sprigs oregano, roughly chopped
• 4 Sprigs of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
• ½ pound of good quality spaghetti or linguine
• 1 Handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt & pepper to taste
• Heat olive oil to hot in a heavy sauté pan
• Dredge chicken pieces in seasoned flour
• Pan fry presentation side down (skin side if there was skin) till golden, 3 – 4 minutes
• Turn and repeat on other side 3-4 minutes
• Once chicken is golden and almost cooked through, remove and keep warm in a 200F oven, loosely tented with foil
• Add shallots to pan and cook until soft
• Season with salt & pepper and add mushrooms, cook until soft
• Add wine, tomatoes, oregano and simmer until reduced by half, 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Add parsley, saving some for garnish
• Taste and adjust seasoning
• Prepare Pasta
• Add chicken pieces to the sauce, simmer to heat through
Serve over your favorite pasta with lots of parmesan cheese & garnish with parsley.