This Easy Chicken Cacciatore recipe is a family favorite from my mom’s personal recipe box. I grew up eating this flavorful and comforting Mediterranean meal. This dish, typically made with bone-in chicken thighs, is called pollo alla cacciatora in Italy. However in our family recipe we use boneless skinless thighs, which helps the dish to cook faster. We typically serve it over egg noodles, though it would be equally delicious over mashed potatoes, polenta, or rice. Alternatively, you may serve it alongside your favorite green vegetable for a lower carb option. Overall it’s a quick, simple, and healthy Italian-style entree that is perfect for a weeknight.
When I was a kid, my mom had a regular rotation of weekly dinner meals. You know what I’m talking about– those ten or twelve dishes that are fast, tasty, and reliable. It’s part of what gets you through the week– those reliable standard dinners that everybody in the family enjoys. My mom’s meal rotation made an indelible mark on the fabric of my childhood. The smell of these dishes meant home, comfort, and family. And this particular one always made me giggle.
Chicken cacciatore is an Italian dish, pronounced Chicken Catch-Ah-Tori. When I was little, I used to hear the word as “Catch A Tori.” My name is Tori, so naturally I found this wildly amusing. Consequently, as my mom stirred the simmering tomato sauce with aromatic Italian herbs, I was fond of announcing:
My mom originally received this recipe as part of a creative gift at her bridal shower. Her girlfriend gave her a box filled with placemats, wine glasses, plates, and a family recipe for chicken cacciatore. Mom cooked the recipe many times for our family over the years. She liked serving it over egg noodles best.
Now that I am a wife and mother, I have my own regular rotation of monthly meals… and naturally, chicken cacciatore is on my list. Thanks for the inspiration, Mom!
History of Chicken Cacciatore
The Italian term for chicken cacciatore is pollo alla cacciatora. In Italian, the word cacciatore means “hunter,” and dishes prepared “hunter-style” are cooked alla cacciatora – braised in a sauce made of onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, herbs, and sometimes red or white wine. This method of cooking became popular during the Renaissance. Families living in the countryside often relied on hunters for their protein. Whatever game a hunter brought home would be cooked together with garden vegetables, alla cacciatora style. Sometimes wild foraged mushrooms were used as well. Rabbit and pheasant can be cooked alla cacciatora, and in Southern Italy, salami is occasionally used.
Easy Chicken Cacciatore
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (roughly 6 large thighs)
- 1 cup flour (for gluten free use GF flour substitute or cassava flour)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 28 oz diced Italian tomatoes (1 large can)
- 14 oz tomato sauce (1 can)
- 6 oz tomato paste (1 can)
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tbsp dried)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cups cooked wide egg noodles (for gluten free use rice or your favorite certified GF pasta)
- Fresh chopped basil for garnish (optional)
- Place the chicken thighs on a plate. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
- Dredge the chicken thighs in the seasoned flour until thoroughly coated. Reserve.
- In a large saute pan combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, red wine, sugar, oregano, and basil. Stir. Turn the heat to medium low and let the sauce slowly warm.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Place the breaded chicken thighs into the skillet and fry them for a few minutes on each side until they turn golden brown. Don't cook them all the way through, just brown them.
- Place the browned chicken thighs into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and let the thighs simmer on medium low in the sauce.
- Meanwhile, pour another tablespoon of olive oil into the skillet. Pour the chopped onion and bell pepper into the skillet. Saute them for 8-10 minutes till softened.
- Stir the sauteed onion and pepper into the tomato sauce.
- In the skillet, sear the sliced mushrooms on medium high for 5-6 minutes until they start to brown.
- Stir the seared mushrooms into the sauce.Let the chicken and vegetables simmer together for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken cooks through and the sauce thickens. If the sauce seems to be drying out or gets overly thick, stir in some hot water to thin it out a bit. At the end of cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot chicken and sauce over cooked wide egg noodles or rice. Garnish with a little chopped fresh basil, if desired.