Two of my cherished weekend rituals are 1) watching the Food Network and 2) spending an evening cooking us a comforting dinner, which in 99% of circumstances leads us to classic Italian recipes like today’s Chicken Cacciatore. We’re never disappointed.
Cacciatore (pronounced Kah-Chuh-Taw-Ree) means “hunter” in Italian. Thus, chicken cacciatore means chicken that is prepared alla cacciatore or “hunter style.”
Traditionally, chicken cacciatore is a stew of slow-simmered chicken (or rabbit) parts cooked with tomatoes, vegetables like green peppers and mushrooms, and a splash of wine or vinegar.
You’ll find as many recipes for chicken cacciatore as there are Italian grandmothers who make them. A chicken cacciatore worth its bread for dipping is rustic, richly flavored, and speaks to the part of us that longs for comfort and familiarity.
You’ll find that deep satisfaction and sense of caring in this recipe too.
When I cook cacciatore at home, it’s usually in the form of this Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore, which is easy and perfect nights when I’ve a) planned ahead and b) want to be 100% hands free.
Then, a few weeks ago on one of my Food Network mornings, I caught Giada making chicken cacciatore. Her over-the-top Italian pronunciation aside, I was smitten. I knew immediately what Italian recipe I was cooking for us that Sunday night.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore
Giada’s recipe was the catalyst for my choosing to cook chicken cacciatore, but there are several important distinctions between our recipes, the most important of which is that I opted to make a boneless chicken cacciatore recipe.
Using boneless chicken thighs in place of bone-in chicken pieces means that the chicken cacciatore can be ready more quickly.
Using boneless chicken also makes for an easy chicken cacciatore recipe. You don’t need to worry about cutting the chicken into pieces, and because we’re using entirely chicken thighs versus a mix of parts, all of the chicken finishes cooking in the same amount of time.
Chicken thighs are also forgiving. Because they are naturally moist, they are much more resistant to overcooking, including boneless ones.
Even if you’ve never made chicken cacciatore before, you can cook this easy recipe with success.
- Chicken Thighs. Chicken thighs are a wonderful choice for recipes like this. Dark meat is especially tender, juicy, and flavorful, and I promise you won’t regret giving it a try. Plus, chicken thighs are lean, and they contain oodles of beneficial protein, vitamins, and nutrients.
- Onion + Green Bell Pepper + Garlic. A flavorful trio to kick off our cacciatore sauce.
- Dry White Wine. The addition of white wine enhances the other flavors in the sauce. You’ll want to use a dry white wine so that it doesn’t add any unnecessary sweetness. In the “Wine Pairing” section below, you can find some suggested varieties.
- Crushed Tomatoes. I used the crushed tomatoes and their juices to build a rich tomato flavor for the sauce.
- Mushrooms. As the mushrooms cook, they add scrumptious, earthy flavor to the sauce.
- Italian Seasoning. Ties everything together with a tasty Italian-inspired bow.
- Balsamic Vinegar. For deep flavor that makes the sauce taste like it’s been simmering all day.
- Season the chicken with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Brown the chicken on both sides (it doesn’t need to be fully cooked). Remove it to a plate.
- Saute the onion and pepper. Add the garlic.
- Pour in the wine, and let it simmer.
- Stir in the tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and vinegar. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Lay the chicken thighs in the sauce. Simmer partially covered until the chicken is cooked through.
- Dice or shred the chicken (if desired), or keep the thighs whole.
- Serve with parsley, Parmesan, and any desired sides. DIG IN!
What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore
- Salad. Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad would be tasty served with this chicken cacciatore. Or try your favorite green salad.
- Vegetables. A side of simple and healthy Roasted Broccoli and Carrots would be delicious. The Italian seasoning and Parm are a particularly nice pairing.
- Bread. For a side that’s always sure to please, try this Caramelized Onion and Olive Focaccia.
- For white wine, a dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay would pair nicely with this dish. If you prefer red, try a Chianti or Sangiovese.
- Since this recipe calls for 3/4 cup of wine, I like to cook with a white wine that’s good enough to drink. Add a little to the dish, and drink the rest of the bottle with dinner.
- Not a wine person? Pair an Italian Margarita with your chicken cacciatore instead.
Chicken Cacciatore Storage Tips
- To Store. Refrigerator leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm this dish in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Healthy Chicken Recipes
- Penne Alla Vodka with Chicken
- Lemon Butter Chicken
- Baked Chicken Meatballs
- Sheet Pan Italian Chicken
- Baked Chicken Parmesan
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. An essential tool in my kitchen for making delicious recipes like this chicken cacciatore.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. Easily chop vegetables, meat, fruit, and more with a high-quality knife like this one.
- Instant Read Thermometer. If you cook meat often, I highly recommend adding one of these to your kitchen.
I hope this quicker, healthier version of chicken cacciatore brings the same warmth and satisfaction to your kitchen as it did to ours.
As always, if you try this recipe, please leave a comment below to let me know how it turned out. Your comments and ratings are so important to this site, and I love hearing from you!
FOR THE CHICKEN CACCIATORE:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 8 ounces sliced baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Whole wheat pasta brown rice, polenta, rice, zucchini noodles, or baked and shredded spaghetti squash
- Chopped fresh parsley or basil
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch over or similar deep, sturdy pot over medium high. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Once the oil is hot and shimmering (but not so hot it starts smoking), add the chicken in a single layer. Cook on the first side for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned, moving the chicken as little as possible so that it gets a nice sear. Flip and brown on the other side, about 2 additional minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large, clean plate. The chicken does not need to be cooked through.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the white wine. Stir and let simmer until the wine is reduced by approximately half, about 3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices, the mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and balsamic vinegar, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Nestle the chicken thighs into the tomato sauce, along with any drippings that have collected on the plate. The chicken should be mostly submerged, though some may peek through.
- Partially cover the pot and let simmer 15 to 20 additional minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, the sauce is thickened, and the mushrooms are tender.
- If you’d like to dice or shred the chicken, remove it to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, dice or shred it, then return it to the pot. You also can serve the chicken thighs whole.
- Taste and season the sauce with additional salt and pepper as desired. If you've chopped or shredded the chicken, return it to the sauce and toss to combine and warm through. Otherwise, serve the chicken pieces whole with a generous amount of the sauce on top.
- Serve hot over pasta, rice, polenta, or veggie noodles, with a big extra spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of parsley and Parmesan.
- TO STORE: Refrigerator leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm chicken cacciatore in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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