Saturday, 30 January 2016

My Chicken Cacciatore (Italian Hunter's Chicken Stew)...a curry is a curry!!

My Chicken Cacciatore or Italian Hunter's Chicken Stewgoing by how often this is made and how much we like it, this should have made it to blog much earlier but I guess better late than everstarted off as a mix of recipes picked up from the net, and now settled to this final version after trying various permutations and combinationsone of the easiest recipes one can come across especially when one wants a “curry” without actually making the effort of making one!! J





Chicken Cacciatore (Italian Hunter's Chicken Stew)


Ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs fillets, boneless and skinless with all excess fat removed, around 600 gms (you can use a mix of thighs and drumsticks, bone in, skin on if you prefer; adjust cooking time accordingly, weight to be around 900gms –1 kg)
  • Regular flour/maida, about ¼ cup (can skip for dietary constraints, refer to notes)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Crushed Black Pepper, to taste


For the sauce:

  • Onions, finely sliced, 1 cup
  • Tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped with their juice, 1 cup
  • Garlic, finely chopped, 4 –5
  • Mixed peppers –red, green and yellow, sliced into long strips, about 2 cups (keep them a little chunky if you prefer it that way)
  • Mushrooms (White or Cremini), quartered or thickly sliced, about 2 cups
  • White Wine, ¼ cup (or use chicken stock or water)
  • Chicken Stock, ½ - ¾ cup (or use water)
  • Rosemary, finely chopped, 1 tbsp if using fresh or 1 tsp if using dried (or sub with Thyme)
  • Cherry tomatoes, a handful (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Crushed Black Pepper, to taste
  • Red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
  • Oil, 1+ 2 tbsp



Instructions:


Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and dredge them in flour. Keep aside.

Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a large heavy bottom pan/skillet or Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, add in mushrooms and sauté, stirring, for a couple of minutes or so to colour and soften a bit. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and keep aside.

Add in the peppers to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in the same pan and fry the chicken over medium high heat in batches until golden brown on both sides. Remove and keep aside. If using skin on chicken- place the chicken in the pan skin side down first. The skin will also release some extra oil while frying that you may need to remove before proceeding.

Add in the garlic, rosemary and onions to the same pan and fry till the onions just start to turn slightly golden at the edges.

Pour in the wine/chicken stock and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Let it bubble and simmer until the wine is reduced by half.

Stir in the red chili flakes and tomatoes and crush them a little with the back of the spoon. Add in the stock and let it come to a bubble.

Return the chicken to the pan (skin side up if using skin on chicken pieces), along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.

Bring to a boil again then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through – about 20-25 minutes.(about 40 minutes if using bone in chicken pieces, till the meat is almost falling off the bone)

Stir the peppers, mushrooms and a handful of cherry tomatoes, if using into the chicken. Return to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for another cook 10 minutes to blend in the flavors. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Switch of the heat and top with a few more cherry tomatoes.

Ideally, let it rest for a at least a couple of hours before reheating and serving with boiled pasta, rice or a loaf of crusty bread.



Notes:

  • This is typically made with bone in and skin on pieces. I have never liked the look or the taste of skin on chicken in a slow cooked “curry” and hence always use skinless chicken pieces. Bone in or boneless depends on what I have available at home but as always I never use chicken breast for anything which even remotely looks like a curry.


  • Feel free to use bite size chicken pieces instead of whole fillets.


  • Using flour –again depends on which version you are following but it does add body to the sauce and keeps the chicken nice and soft especially when cooking boneless pieces.


  • The use of onions, peppers and mushrooms is optional – depending on which recipe version you want to follow and what you have available.


  • You can skip the above veggies and add some cannellini beans towards the end to have a more substantial version of the stew.


  • You may need to add about ½ tsp of sugar depending on the tomatoes that are used.