Chicken cacciatore (or cacciatoro) is a classic Italian dish made in one pan with tomatoes, onions and more. This is what the Italians refer to as cooking alla cacciatora/hunter style.
Traditional Chicken Cacciatore
I love chicken. It’s a healthy, low-fat meat that is quick to cook and takes on flavour beautifully.
Chicken can be a quick midweek meal for one or all the family. Or it can become a full-on feast for family and friends.
It is one of the most versatile of meats and inexpensive too. Do please try to use free-range chicken.
Ingredients for chicken cacciatore
I have used full chicken leg portions here. However, you could use chicken thighs or breasts too.
That great triumvirate of vegetables that make up almost every Italian sauce – onion, carrot and celery. This is called Soffritto.
mushrooms – I’ve used button mushrooms but use whatever type of mushrooms you like
dry white wine
Balsamic vinegar and a little brown sugar
herbs – thyme, rosemary and bay
If you don’t have any dry white wine you can use dry vermouth instead. Actually I always keep a bottle of both dry and sweet vermouth for using in my cooking instead of wine.
If using dried herbs use half the quantity to fresh herbs. Herbs become stronger in flavour as they are dried.
Use pitted olives for this recipe, please. Nobody wants a dentist’s bill for a cracked tooth on an olive stone!
Always use good quality tinned tomatoes. There is a big difference in flavour between bargain tinned toms and quality branded tomatoes. This is a case of getting what you pay for.
Hunter style chicken
Don’t you just love one-pan cooking? Being able to bring together a great meal without using the entire arsenal of cookware in the kitchen. It’s less hassle and way less washing up, result!
One-pot cooking is often referred to as cooking hunter style. Think about it. When you are out hunting and living in the wilds you won’t have a lot of pans to cook with.
This chicken cacciatore is basically the Italian version of the French chicken chasseur and our own hunter’s chicken.
Here is my own Hunter’s Chicken recipe and still a family favourite.
How to make chicken cacciatore
The first thing to do is sear that chicken. This helps to lock in all that marvellous flavour.
Simply heat a heavy-based pan and coat with olive oil. Sear the chicken pieces on both sides till golden. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Now we want to build the flavour base for this classic Italian chicken dish. The all-important rich and aromatic tomato sauce.
The soffritto base of onion, celery and carrot are a magical mixture that add a depth and flavour that you just won’t get with onions alone.
Add the carrot, onion and celery to the pan and saute along with the pancetta for 5 minutes.
Making the tomato sauce
Now add the garlic and the mushrooms for just a minute.
Return the seared chicken to the pan and add the tinned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, sugar, wine, stock, herbs and seasoning.
Cover the pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Toss in the olives and cook for a further 10 minutes uncovered.
This allows the sauce to reduce and become even richer. By now the chicken is juicy and succulent and cooked through.
What to serve with chicken cacciatore
You can serve this rustic chicken dish with anything from pasta to mashed potatoes.
Or why not try it with polenta, gnocchi or rice.
I like to serve my Italian hunter’s chicken just with crusty bread to mop up that rich and delicious tomato sauce. And a green salad on the side.
How many does this Italian chicken serve?
This recipe is for two people. To make more simply double the recipe up to suit the number you are catering for.
Using chicken leftovers
If you have any leftovers of cacciatore just poop them in the fridge and they will be even tastier reheated the next day.
Freezing chicken cacciatore
You can freeze this chicken dish for up to 3 months. Just defrost thoroughly and make sure to serve it piping hot.
Looking for more delicious chicken dishes to try? Then check these out before you go;
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Chicken Cacciatore (Italian hunter's chicken)
- 2 chicken leg portions or 4 thighs skin on
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 stick celery diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 60 g chopped pancetta or lardons
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 70 g button mushrooms sliced
- 50 ml dry white wine (or dry vermouth)
- 400 g can of chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 75 ml chicken stock
- 70 g pitted black olives
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley to serve
- sear the chicken on both sides till golden brown and remove from pan
- add the onion, celery, carrot and pancetta to the pan and saute for 5 minutes
- add garlic and mushrooms for 1 minute
- return chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes, herbs, balsamic vinegar, sugar, wine, stock and seasoning
- bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes
- add the olives and cook for a further 10 minutes uncovered to allow the sauce to reduce
- test the chicken is cooked through by piercing with a skewer or point of a knife, it should be succulent and tender. Serve sprinkled with parsley