While trying to research a little about the beginnings of this dish, I found some opposing suggestions. If this is “hunter-style chicken”, why would one go hunting and come back with a chicken? Is it that the hunter’s wife would prepare this for her man upon his return from a hard day in the woods or is it that she would prepare this dish if he came back empty handed? Versions of this dish likely date back to the 15 century and originally did not include tomatoes. You will find that there are so many variations of chicken cacciatore. The spices can vary, some use red wine while others use white, some recipes include capers and green olives.
Having said all that, we were so excited to finally get together with Nonna Anna and make her version of pollo alla cacciatore that her family raves about. In fact, I made it for my family the next day and got the same response! The wonderful aroma of this dish permeates the house and magically draws everyone to the kitchen!
Nonna Anna has been making this recipe for years and for good reason-it’s delicious!
This chicken dish is perfect for a family meal or makes an impressive dinner for guests. Use the sauce to make a pasta starter (or add it over rice or farro). Add a tossed salad or veggie dish and dinner is served. Don’t forget the fresh crusty bread to soak up all the yummy sauce!
- 1 chicken (about 4 pounds, cut into pieces)
- 4 slices bacon (thick slice) diced
- 1 1/2 medium size onions, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (quickly blanched)
- 1 can (28 oz) peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 red peppers (sheppard or bell) cut into 3"X1/4" slices
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (quickly blanched)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Canola oil (to brown chicken-about 1/2 cup)
- Olive oil (to sauté vegetables-about 1/2 cup)
- Heat canola oil in a large non-stick cooking pan.
- Add the chicken pieces (in batches if necessary) and allow to get lightly browned
- Remove chicken and drain the cooking oil. Clean and dry the pan.
- Add the olive oil.
- Add the bacon and cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.
- Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook until onion is golden brown.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3-4 more minutes.
- Season everything with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return browned chicken to pan.
- Add tomatoes, white wine and dried basil.
- Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 50 minutes, turning once midway through.
- For most of the second half of cooking, leave uncovered.
- For the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the pepper strips, peas and parsley.
- Garnish with more parsley when plated if desired.
- Avoid the temptation to turn the chicken more than once while simmering!