Have you not gotten over all of the delicious holiday dishes you’ve been eating lately, and wish there was more? Or have you decided to eat healthier this year and are having trouble finding recipes that both taste good and are good for you? Either way, it looks like a day has come around that you will positively love—it’s Chicken Cacciatore Day!
The History of Chicken Cacciatore Day
It’s probably best to start off by saying what cacciatore actually means, which will help shed some light on the dish’s origins. Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, and it is hunters who first ate this dish. In fact, it is thought that the first Chicken Caccaiatore was not made with chicken at all, but with rabbit or other wild game sometime during the Renaissance period, so between the 14th and 16th centuries. Chicken Cacciatore’s simple but delicious recipe was likely developed to satisfy the appetites of hunters who may have been on the track of a larger animal or herd of animals for several days, and who needed a tasty, filling stew that could easily be cooked outdoors to keep them going. The spices used, such as parsley and oregano, would have also been readily available to humble hunters. An interesting fact is that contrary to popular belief, Chicken Cacciatore did not originally contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, as tomatoes were brought to Italy from the New World later than it would have been made for the first time. When making this dish with chicken, it is more traditional to use the dark meat, not the white meat, as it contains more fat and therefore helps make a thicker, tastier sauce when cooked than lean chicken breast would.
How to Celebrate Chicken Cacciatore Day
In short—learn to make you own Chicken Cacciatore! The dish is relatively quick and easy to make, quite nutritious, and the recipe can easily be multiplied to serve more if needed.
Here is a simple but delicious recipe:
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1-1/2 pounds of chicken thighs, with the bone in and skin on
some salt to taste
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, washed, seeded, and sliced thinly
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup Marsala or other red or white wine
1-1/2 cups peeled and chopped, firm ripe tomatoes, with their juices
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped)
Start by seasoning the chicken pieces on all sides with the salt. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Place the chicken pieces skin side down in the pan and brown, which should take about 5 minutes, and then turn over and lightly brown the other side. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat out of the frying pan, and then add the sliced onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook until the onions are translucent, and the mushrooms have become limp. This should take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook a minute or so longer. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, and then add the tomatoes. Stir in all of the spices as well as about a teaspoon of salt to taste. Simmer everyhing uncovered for another 5 minutes or so, and then put the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes and onions, skin side up. Lower the heat and cover the frying pan with its lid slightly ajar so some of the steam can get out. Proceed to cook the chicken on a low simmer, turning it from time to time. Cook everything until the thighs are tender, which should take about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve over pasta to soak up the juices.