Cacciatore, meaning ‘hunter’ in Italian, is also the name given to a wonderful winter-warming stew. It’s a well-loved Italian classic, with many variations to explore. Capsicum (peppers, for my American friends) and/or mushrooms are quite often added and I have no doubt that there’s a debate to be had over whether to choose red or white wine. My one stipulation is that if you’re going to make this dish, you really must use chicken thigh fillets, or even better if you can source them, chicken cutlets (thigh fillets on the bone). They will remain infinitely more tender than breast fillets and are also much more flavourful. So pour yourself a glass of vino, get into the cucina and celebrate winter with this Cacciatore on your table.
Chicken Cacciatore | Gather and Graze
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 8 Free-Range Chicken Thigh Fillets
- 1 Medium Brown Onion (diced)
- 1 Medium Carrot (diced)
- 1 Stick Celery (diced)
- 2 Cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 Anchovy Fillets
- 125mls (½ Cup) Red Wine (I used an Australian Shiraz)
- 2 x 400g (14oz) Tins of Cherry (or Chopped) Tomatoes
- ½ tsp Aleppo Pepper or Mild Chilli Flakes (optional)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- ½ Cup (approx 16) Kalamata Olives
- Small Bunch of Flat-Leaf Parsley (chopped)
Heat a large casserole pot or saucepan over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown the chicken thigh fillets in the olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the fillets to a bowl once browned and set aside for the moment.
Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the diced onion, carrot and celery, along with a little salt, in the same pot for about 10 minutes, until softened and tender. Add the garlic and anchovy fillets and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes, until the anchovies have broken down and mixed in with the vegetables.
Pour in the red wine and using a wooden spoon, scrape the base of the pot to release any delicious brown bits that may have stuck. Allow to simmer until reduced, leaving only a couple of tablespoons of the syrupy wine. Add the tinned tomatoes, Aleppo pepper (if using) and bay leaves, stir to combine and bring back up to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, before returning the chicken back to the pot. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes, adding in the olives for the final 15 minutes. Check once again for seasoning, remove the bay leaves and sprinkle the top with chopped parsley.
Fabulous served with pasta, rice or a crusty loaf of bread on the side… anything to make sure that all the delicious sauce gets mopped up.