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How to make Chicken Cacciatore - easy!

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Picture of How to make Chicken Cacciatore - easy!
Chicken Cacciatore might strike some as a difficult dish
that must be authentic to enjoy. Quite the contrary!

Each cook seems to add or subtract to the basic recipe, which typically calls for
chicken, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and a few other ingredients.
It is very easy to make, and excellent leftovers for the following day.

Cacciatore ( kăch ' ə-tôr ' ē, -tōr ' ē )

This recipe was found in a 2001 Sonoma-Williams chicken cookbook, and although I found
it to be a good one, I did make alterations, and even wondered if there was a typo with
regard to a call for drained tomatoes. Nowhere in the recipe was the juice called back
into action, but should have been. The following includes my amendments, including
grilled chicken instead of fried, diced instead of parts on the bone.
I don't like bones in my food.
That's just the way it is.
 
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Step 1: Gather your ingredients...

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Please pardon my error, as Marsala found it's way into the image,
when in fact it is not used in this recipe.

For this recipe, you will otherwise need:
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Please don't buy cheap oil - life is too short)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 yellow bell pepper (red or green can be used, but will alter the taste. Not a bad thing, just different)
  • 10 ounces fresh white button mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (see step five for a bit of humor on this note)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup wine - Honestly, folks, don't be too particular about the wine. Red or white is fine.
  • (you may substitute chicken broth, or even add broth in addition to the wine. Be creative!)
  • 1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (save the juice!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Porcino mushrooms (Optional, see step #2)
  • Pasta or rice, on which to serve the sauce
Having made this recipe, and devouring every bit of it, I can say without question
that I will definitely make it again, but next time I will use red wine. If heating up
leftovers, I'll add a few sun dried tomatoes for a sweet bite here and there.

While later perusing the web for other variables, I found a version of Chicken Cacciatore
from Giada De Laurentiis, which I very much liked, as it included chicken broth, the juice
of the tomatoes and extra garlic, just as I thought. We agree with Giada. Next time we'll
add 3/4 cup chicken broth and even add three Tablespoons of capers, too!  For those
watching their sodium intake, eliminate the capers. ;-)

Step 2: Dried Porcini Mushrooms...to add or not to add. (OPTIONAL)

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The inclusion of dried Porcini sounds wonderful, and as much as we love mushrooms,
the truth (in our house, at least) is that 1/2 teaspoon of ground Porcini went without notice,
without taste. You may omit this step if you wish, otherwise, continue.

Grind a package of dried Porcini in a small food processor, or even better, a coffee grinder. It is thought
that by adding such to your recipes, they will have a burst of mushroom taste. Perhaps
another recipe calling for more of it would be more suitable. Return the unused ground mushrooms to the
cellophane envelope in which they were purchased. Store in a dark, cool place.

Step 3: Clean, cut, and grill the chicken...

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I'm all about sanitation in the kitchen, so these inexpensive plastic gloves
fit right in. When rinsed, they can also be recycled. And I'm all about that, too.

Using four large boneless chicken breasts, I cut them in half horizontally
and grilled them on a George Foreman indoor grill. Thank you, George. I love you.

Typical Cacciatore is made with whole chicken parts, pheasant, or even rabbit,
drawing 'hunter's choice' from the word 'Cacciatore', which means 'hunter'.


Step 4: Drain tomatoes, reserve juice.

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This is the most simple step in the entire program.
Drain the tomatoes.
Reserve the juice to be added back to the sauce later.

Initially, I made this recipe by the book, only to find the section
reading 'bring to a boil' seemed more like 'bring to a seared pile
of dry veggies', so I introduced the reserved juice back into the
sauce. Though the original recipe did call for one cup of wine,
the amount of liquid was hardly sufficient for such a sauce.

I added the juice back in, and all was good.

Step 5: Chastise your significant other (or...measure 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes)

Picture of Chastise your significant other (or...measure 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
Saturday morning, hubby and I are sitting at the table deciding the
day's menu. Chicken Cacciatore it is. Shopping list.

"Chicken?" I asked.
"Check." Said hubby.
"Salt, pepper, garlic?"
"Check. Check. Check."
"Canned tomatoes?"
"Got it."
"Red pepper flakes?"
"Check."

So comes the time to cook, and I can find not a pepper flake one. I scoured
the cabinet. Nothing. Not even a jar.

Hubby came into the kitchen to confess. He had used the remains of our flakes
a few weeks prior to make a spice rub. And did he add them back to the grocery list?

Mind you, this recipe calls for a mere 1/8 of a teaspoon. Other than actually finding
a tiny red flake in this otherwise red pool of sauce, who was going to notice them missing?
But that simply wasn't the point.

My face must have spoken volumes when I learned what had become of the flakes. Hubby
actually used a fine pair of tweezers and scavenged 1/8 of a teaspoon from his spice rub,
reassuring me that everything would be okay. Mind you, I said nothing. He must have checked
the calendar and knew what a terrible fate would await him for making such a mistake at this time.

All is well. Next step, please?

Step 6: Let the chopping begin...

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It's time to chop. Chop the bell pepper. I like small cubes, but you may make them
larger, if you prefer.

Chop the onion. Same rules apply. Dice as big or as small as you wish.

Mince the garlic. Every home needs a good pizza cutter, toilet plunger, and of course, a garlic mincer.

Set aside.

Step 7: Cool and cut the chicken...

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By now, the chicken is likely cool enough to handle. Cut into cubes
and set aside. Cover with a moist paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Step 8: Wash and drain the mushrooms...

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Rinse the mushrooms well, and set them aside to drain.
You may use whole or sliced.

Step 9: Put water on to boil...

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Set a pot of water to boil, and add a teaspoon of salt for good measure.

Step 10: Add olive oil to a large pan...

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Though the original recipe calls for a mere two tablespoons of olive oil, I found myself
having to add more, so be sure to have plenty on hand to add as you cook.

Add a few Tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan. In this recipe, I used a 12" frying pan
with good sides.

On medium heat, add the onions and bell peppers to the pan. Stir well, cook for five minutes.

Step 11: Add mushrooms, garlic, and the secret herbs and spices...

Add the mushrooms and the garlic, stirring well to mix in the olive oil, adding
more if needed at this time. Cook for six minutes.

Add the basil, oregano, and for pity's sake, make sure you add those red pepper flakes!
Add more olive oil if you desire, so as not to dry cook your veggies.

Step 12: Add the wine, tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms and tomato juice...

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A glass of wine for the cook, a glass for the sauce.

Add the wine, dried Porcini (if desired).

Add the diced chicken.

Add wine at this time, turn up the heat a bit, and allow the sauce to come to a full boil.
Add the tomatoes, adding the tomato juice a bit at a time, cooking to a nice bubble, then add more sauce.
For those who do not drink, you may replace the wine with chicken broth.

By now, your sauce is looking and smelling wonderful, and people are beginning to gather in the kitchen.
Smile. Be confident. It's going to be delicious!

Step 13: Put on the pasta...pour on the sauce, and enjoy!

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Now that your pot of water is likely boiling (a nice rapid boil, I hope), add the pasta
and a few good dashes of salt. Cook according to the directions on your pasta package,
or use your own judgment - you know, the 'pick a strand out, pass it between your fingers
because it's burning them, then shove it into your mouth and chew' test.

Not done yet, one more minute. Don't overcook pasta. Soggy pasta is, well, it is, it's just nasty.

My suggestion for this recipe - Barilla Thin Spaghetti.

When the spaghetti is finished, drain, mix well with a bit more olive oil, and serve immediately
with a good scoop of Cacciatore sauce. Suggested side dish - a big hunk of French bread.

Bon Appetite! Makes excellent leftovers!