Chicken Cacciatore is one of those dishes you have probably had 100 times and have never actually heard its name. Or you’ve heard it’s name and it gives you dining hall related flashbacks. That is not this recipe.
A simple Italian braise of tomatoes, herbs, wine, and peppers, Cacciatore has been a family dinner staple across the country for years. While many recipes call for “healthier” chicken breasts, their use can result in dry, crumbly chicken and a sauce laden with chalky albumen (the egg white like protein that seems out some of meats when cooked too quickly.)
Chicken thighs are the perfect protein for this classic dish, as the collagen in the skin and bone lends an unctuousness to the sauce that is otherwise missing. I use capers in this recipe because the piquant floral and salty aspect they add really creates additional depth in the sauce. If you’re not a fan, or can’t find capers in your local market (or delivery … these days) feel free to omit them.
Also, like many other the other dishes on this site, I recommend using the oven to slowly open braise this dish. Some other recipes call for simmering on the stovetop. I feel that the oven develops depper flavors, and yields a much more tender product. Also, with the open braise method, I don’t get distracted and burn things nearly as often. And I get distracted often. With the oven braise, the dish comes together in a little less than an hour and a half, but only 20 minutes of that is hands on. Meaning you can still get on that family virtual happy hour while you wait.
Or you can tell them you’re too busy making dinner and have a glass of wine alone.
You can serve this Cacciatore over pasta with a little grated cheese, or just alone with a big hunk of bread to soak up the sauce.
Chicken Thigh CacciatoreCourse: MainCuisine: Italian, AmericanDifficulty: Easy
A chicken thigh based take on Chicken Cacciatore, an Italian American classic made with chicken simmered in wine and tomatoes.
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 12-14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups light chicken stock
½ cup dry red wine
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
1 tsp salted capers
1 tsp red chili flake
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Fresh basil and parsley for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Peel, trim, and dice the onion.
- Peel and mince or microplane the garlic.
- Core and seed the red bell pepper. Dice into a ¼ inch dice.
- Rinse the capers. If using capers in brine instead of salted capers, do not rinse.
- Sear the chicken skin-side down until well browned and most of the fat has rendered. Remove thighs from the pan, and discard all but 1 tbsp of fat.
- Add capers, bell pepper, pepper flake, and onion to the fat in the pan. Cook over medium heat until the onion just begins to brown. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add garlic, chicken stock, thyme, basil, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange the chicken back in the pan, spooning some sauce over the pieces. Bring to a low simmer and transfer to the oven to cook for approximately 1 hour.
- Garnish with torn pieces of fresh herbs, a spray of pepper flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with fresh Italian-style bread or pasta.
Be sure to check out my other food project, The Weekly Menu!