Chicken cacciatore is a favorite standby for many of us who love Italian food. This dish probably started out as a meal cooked around the campfire using rabbit or whatever fowl was on hand (cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian) and now is usually cooked using chicken. It’s an easy dish and even better the next day. Serves 6 to 8.
1/4 cup all purpose flour (I use unbleached but regular is fine)
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3-1/2 to 4 pounds skinned chicken parts (thighs, legs breasts) You can use all white meat but reduce cooking time so the chicken doesn’t get dry.
3 tablespoons olive oil, add more if needed
1 cup chopped yellow onion
8 to 10 ounces brown mushrooms, thickly sliced (depending on how much you like mushrooms)
One can (16 ounces) tomatoes (San Marzano are best) coarsely chopped, with juice
8 ounces canned tomato sauce
(If you only have a 28 ounce can of tomatoes, omit the sauce and use the whole can of tomatoes.)
Four cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly grated parmesan
Optional, but I love the addition: 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
Preheat oven to 350º F. Mix flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper together on a large piece of brown or waxed paper. Roll chicken pieces in the mixture until fully coated. Reserve leftover flour mixture.
In a large oven-proof pan or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chicken and brown until golden. Do this in batches so you don’t crowd the chicken pieces, and add more oil as needed. Remove chicken from heat onto a platter. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened. Add mushrooms and cook until they start to go limp and release liquid, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, parsley, herbs, and flour mixture and stir until thoroughly blended. Return chicken to pan and test seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Bake covered, for about an hour, or until chicken does not run pink. If you’re adding olives, remove pan from oven about 45 minutes along and stir in the olives.
Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes. You can also let the dish sit overnight in the fridge once it cools and reheat on the stovetop.
Serve over pasta or with good bread, with a green salad on the side.