Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, herbs, and sometimes wine. Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken (pollo alla cacciatora) or rabbit (coniglio alla cacciatora). Basically the hunters would use what they could gather in the woods, and use gamey meats like rabbit, venison, etc. I will have mine without Thumper and Bambi please.
I am not really sure of how chicken was introduced, though one story is that if the hunter returned home empty handed his wife would go out back and kill a chicken and add it to the vegetable stew.
Another story is that the chicken got into the hunter’s vegetables like carrots, onion, and celery. And when the hunter caught the chicken, he became the dinner for the hunter and his family.
There are so many different variations of this dish based upon ingredients available in specific regions. For example, in southern Italy, cacciatore often includes red wine, while northern Italian chefs might use white wine. Some variations include bell peppers and mushrooms mixed in with the vegetables. I wish I had mushrooms on hand when I made this meal, the sauce would have gone great with the flavors of the mushrooms.
Chicken Cacciatore – “Hunter Stew”
- 2-3 lbs chicken, I used boneless/skinless thighs and breasts
- 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium red onion, thinly sliced root to tip
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup white or red wine, I used red wine.
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 ts salt & pepper
- 1 ts dry basil (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
- 1 ts dry parsley (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)
- 1 cup flour
- 3-4 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stocks, chopped
- 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
- In a large heavy pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
- In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Once everything is combined coat chicken pieces on both sides. Place chicken in the hot oil and cook 5-6 minutes on both sides. Once chicken is done remove from pan.
- In the same pan that the chicken was cooked it add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onions are tender. Add the parsley and stir to combine.
- Slowly add the chicken stock to pan. Using a spatula deglaze the pan. Bring to a slow boil.
- Add in the 1/2 cup wine. Bring back to a boil. Boil on medium-high for 5 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan and continue to cook until the chicken is completely cooke all the way, about 30-40 minutes.
We served ours over white rice. You can serve it over pasta, rice or potatoes. I hope that you enjoyed this little trip to Italy as much as we did. What country will our taste buds take us to next time?