Chicken Cacciatore aka Pantry Cooking

Chicken Cacciatore served over rice. Pantry cooking at its best!

Chicken Cacciatore served over rice. Pantry cooking at its best!

My mom would often make chicken cacciatore and she always served it with rice. I have no idea if that is traditional Italian but who cares. I never put it with the rice on my plate back then because I was the kid who didn’t want the different foods touching. It would totally gross me out when my English relatives (and my mom) would mash all the different foods of turkey dinner onto the back of their forks. I have evolved slightly now and I do put the chicken on my rice rather than eat the two separately. It is a sign that I’m not quite so picky and neurotic as I was as a child although I still have my quirks.

When my husband and I were living in New Hampshire I couldn’t work because I didn’t have a work visa so I lived the life of a housewife. I watched an obscene amount of tv and fell in love with Netflix. I also cooked. A lot. I remembered my mom making this when I was a kid so I brought it out of the old memory bank and added my own twist on it.

We moved back to Canada years ago and I forgot about this recipe. One afternoon I was trying to figure out what I should make for dinner. I hadn’t been to the grocery store that week yet so I wandered downstairs to our big freezer to see what I should take out. There was a big package of chicken thighs and I knew we had lots of canned tomatoes. After a stop at the freezer, I went to my downstairs pantry. Yes, I have two pantries. It sounds posh, but it isn’t. The one upstairs is rather small and basically just has onions, Tim’s cookies, dog food and Ziploc containers, which I think breed in there. From the pantry I grabbed a can of San Marzano tomatoes, capers, chicken broth, jar of roasted red pepper and a can of white kidney beans because the old chicken cacciatore recipe I used to make had popped back into my head.

So a little disclaimer here: do not thaw chicken in a freezer bag with lukewarm water in your sink as it opens you up to the risk of food poisoning, however, I didn’t want to eat dinner at midnight so I thawed the chicken thighs in warm water in the sink. A food safety person should give me a thorough scolding. I did cook the hell out of the chicken (2.5 hours) so if there was any risk I braised it away.

I used my kitchen best friend, the cast iron enamelled pot but if you don’t have one, then start it in a large frying pan and as the different components are done put them in the biggest casserole dish you have. If it has a lid, that is even better. If it doesn’t then used a big piece of aluminum foil since you will want to keep the moisture in for the most part. Without a lid it would dry out before the chicken got to the fall apart stage and it would likely burn.

This would be ideal for a crock pot as well. You could do all of the pan searing, sautéing of onions, the night before and put it in the crock pot the next morning. The final stage of cooking involves making sure that the liquid has cooked down so that it isn’t really watery. If you cook this in the crock pot your best bet would be to leave the lid off for the last hour with it on high, or if you want it to go faster then take the excess liquid out, boil it down in another pot on the stove and put it back in with the chicken for serving.

The leftovers freeze and reheat beautifully, so make extra. You will be glad you did when you are too busy to cook some weeknight and you can pull this out of the freezer.

Serve with a salad, cut up veggies or Lemon and Garlic Broccoli. I served this with some micro greens ordered through Bailey’s Local Foods. I dress them very simply with some lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Chicken Cacciatore
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 6
 
Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes, capers, onions, roasted red peppers and served over rice or pasta.
Ingredients
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or more)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar*
  • 2 tsp Herbe de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 or 3 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 2½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste**
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron enamelled dutch oven over a medium heat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (or use a large frying pan if transferring to a casserole dish or slow-cooker)
  2. Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In batches or 3 or 4, brown the chicken thighs in the dutch oven on both sides.
  3. While the chicken is browning, cut the onions into this slices. Roughly chopping them is fine too. Finely chop the garlic and set onions and garlic aside.
  4. When all the chicken is browned, set it aside and add the onions and garlic to the pot.
  5. Soften the onions and garlic and then add the herbs, the chicken broth, tomatoes, and capers.
  6. Roughly chop the roasted red peppers and add those as well.
  7. Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot. Return the browned chicken to the pot. Stir everything together. Put the lid on the dutch oven and put it in the oven at 350 degrees F.
  8. Check it every hour or so to give it a stir. Cook for 2 hours 30 minutes or until the chicken thighs pull apart easily with a fork.
  9. If the sauce is still watery, then put it back on the stove and boil it for a few minutes to thicken it up.
  10. Serve over rice or pasta with a salad on the side.
Notes
*You could use ½ cup of red wine. ** I use about 2 tsp Maldon Sea Salt and probably ¾ tsp pepper. The leftovers freeze well for several months.

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