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Ellen’s Kitchen & Garden

Chicken Cacciatore translates to palate if not easily to English

Posted Thursday,
February 12, 2015
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Photo/Ellen Fox Emerson
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Chicken Cacciatore loses something in translation from Italian to English.

The comforting dish consists of chicken braised with tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms and herbs. Its preparation produces aroma teasing all appetites.

But, dictionaries define cacciatore as “hunter.”

So, you would have “hunter’s chicken?”

Do people hunt chicken, not typically a bird that runs wild?

Reading further, I learned that cacciatore is a style of cooking, in which one braises meat with tomatoes, onions and herbs.

Braising means to sear and then roast slowly in an oven.

This hearty dish goes well with pasta. But for a change of pace, I served it with a creamy polenta.


Chicken Cacciatore with Creamy Polenta
Serves 4 to 6

4-pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of gluten free-flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup of dry red wine
28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes
1 teaspoon of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (maybe another teaspoon of salt)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper and then dredge each piece of chicken, shaking off excess flour.

Using a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium-high burner. When the oil gets hot, add the chicken in one layer — not too crowded. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then, turn and brown on the other side maybe another 6 minutes. Transfer pieces to a platter.

Add the vegetables and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for about another minute. Add the wine and simmer briefly, and then the tomatoes and oregano. (The tomatoes will be whole but will break down easily with a fork.) Check seasoning for taste. Return the chicken to the pot, covering with the sauce. Cover and place in the oven for 1-1/2 hours.


Creamy Polenta
Serves 4 to 6

4 cups of chicken broth
4 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of medium cornmeal
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


In a 4-quart pot bring the broth, cream and butter to a boil. Add the grits, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, gradually add the polenta, continuing to stir preventing lumps from forming. With heat on medium-low the mixture will bubble occasionally. Continue stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the polenta is thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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