Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken in Tomato Sauce)

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Pollo alla Cacciatora is an Italian classic. It means chicken prepared in the style of the hunter’s wife (traditional recipes usually do not assume that the wife would hunt herself), which is chicken stewed in tomatoes with herbs, wine, and the holy trinity of carrot, celery, and onion. As with all traditional recipes there are many slight variations. In this case, I used boneless and chicken thighs. For a more traditional version with more flavor (but also more fat and a longer cooking time), you could use bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs or chicken legs. Whatever you do, do not use chicken breast. Other variations could be the addition of bell peppers or mushrooms, using white wine instead of red, using different herbs. You could even leave out the tomato, although then you’d have to specify you are making “cacciatora in bianco” (bianco = white), as otherwise the use of tomatoes would be implied.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

250 grams (.6 lb) boneless skinless chicken thighs

250 ml (1 cup) pureed tomatoes from a can

1 stick celery, minced (about 50 grams)

1/2 onion, minced (about 50 grams)

1 small carrot, minced (about 50 grams)

125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine, preferably the same wine that you will drink with the dish

2 Tbsp olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh sage

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

Preparation

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Brown the chicken in a casserole in olive oil.

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When the chicken is golden brown on all sides…

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…add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, sage, and rosemary. Stir until the vegetables start to color, about 5 minutes.

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Deglaze the pan with 125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine.

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Scrape with a wooden spatula to get any browned bits into the sauce.

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Bring to a boil and reduce the wine by half.

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Add 250 ml (1 cup) of pureed tomatoes.

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Bring to a boil, stirring.

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Cover partially and reduce the heat to a simmer.

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Simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir now and then, and turn over the chicken when you do.

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Remove the sage and rosemary, and add most of the parsley. Stir to incorporate.

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Serve on preheated plates with mashed potatoes.

Wine pairing

This is nice with a medium bodied Italian red based on sangiovese, such as a Chianti Classico. There are also full bodied Chiantis, so pick one that is a lighter style.

Sangiovese works well with the acidity of the tomatoes. Since chicken is white meat, a full bodied red would overpower it.

Flashback

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Vietnam has a very interesting cuisine because of the French influence. This turmeric fish with dill is a delicious example of what that fusion can lead to.

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26 thoughts on “Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken in Tomato Sauce)

    1. After pointing out your Californianess before I am pleased to notice you are still Italian, too, by your use of “rigorously” 🙂
      An Italian friend once told me that to her, and according to her many Italians, chicken is food for people who are sick.

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  1. Oh Stefan: an old favourite I still love and yes a hundred times over for using boned thighs – I use a fair amount of chicken but breasts rarely enter the equation. And Aussie thighs do seem to cook a heap faster and I often begin with the trinity and then make room for the chook 🙂 ! Absolutely love Vietnamese cooking above all else Asian and am off to see your recipe as turmeric is my most favourite spice . . . want to see how you manage dill in the same dish!!

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    1. Re the ‘turmeric fish’ . . . How on earth did I miss this? I mean Sandra lives variably either to the south of me or the north of me and every one of her recipes I have tried has turned out fantabulous! Stefan – Vietnamese food to me is quintessentially the most elegant amongst SE Asia’s offerings and I shall make this even sooner than repeat your cacciatore 🙂 !

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    2. I was very surprised to say the least to see dill in an Asian dish, until I realized about the French influence on Vietnam. As you will find out when you try it, it is great.
      You could actually cook the thighs very quickly if they are taken off the bone, as in within minutes. They are like calamari though, either a few minutes or very long. Anything in between and they will be tough. Pollo alla cacciatora is actually even better when cooked over very low heat for a couple of hours.

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      1. A great comparison with calamari: had never thought of that! I use chicken thighs for many Asian stirfries and it certainly is a matter of minutes there, but am curious enough about your ‘cacciatore’ and will cook it ‘long’ next time around and see whether I can get extra flavour !! Thanks!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely simple recipe Stefan. I probably would go with bone in skin on. I did something similar without tomato and with cannelloni beans. Post coming soon, if I ever get time to write it up. Very busy at present.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a great dish,Stefan. Don’t you just love the aroma that fills your kitchen? You’re correct to caution against using chicken breasts here. That leads to nothing but disappointment.
    I do hope you’re feeling better, Stefan. I miss “seeing” you around, 🙂

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