Chicken Cacciatore

I make this recipe all the time, and decided I should finally blog it, since it’s tasty and works every time. What I find interesting about the recipe is how the ingredients are very simple, but getting it right involves patience and technique. Strictly speaking, I don’t think I use all of the traditional cacciatore ingredients; but another nice thing about the recipe is that it’s very forgiving about the vegetables you can use, which I always think is a plus, and anyway, fuck tradition or whatever.  I present it to you with the vegetables I like to use the most. Oh, and another nice thing about the recipe is that it’s a one-pot meal – well, two pots, since you’ll want to be making rice or pasta simultaneously. But still.  The following makes enough for my husband and I for dinner, and enough leftovers for at least one of us to have lunch the next day.

Chicken thighs, frying away.


You’ll need:

4 chicken thighs
All-purpose flour
1/2 large white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2/3 cup white wine
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch red kale, destemmed and torn into small pieces
1 small BPA-free can of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Organic), or 4 fresh roma tomatoes if they’re in season, diced
1/2 – 1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular old salt)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Brown rice or pasta



Get a heavy-bottomed lidded pot or deep skillet. I have Le Creuset Dutch oven that’s coated cast iron and it is worth every single cent of the $150 it cost and more – I use it constantly. But the point is, you’ll need a good heavy pot or deep skillet with a lid. Heat it over medium heat, and add enough oil to coat the entire bottom. Olive oil adds a nice flavor to the chicken, but canola can be heated to a higher frying temperature, so a mix of both is ideal, but failing that, if you use olive oil keep the heat at medium, but if you use canola you can go to medium high.


Coat your chicken thighs in flour, and then fry them gently until they’re golden brown; it takes about 5 – 7 minutes per side. Set them aside on paper towels. Pour most of the oil out of the pan, but leave a little.

Dice half a large white onion and crush four garlic cloves and add them to the oil, turning down the heat to medium low. Sautee until golden brown, about 10 minutes. When everything’s starting to carmelize (don’t burn the garlic!) deglaze with the white wine. Bring the wine to a simmer.  Drink the remainder of the open bottle of wine – remember, NEVER cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.

Add the can of tomatoes* and juice. Chop the red bell pepper and add that along with the pepper, salt, and oregano. Stir and bring to a simmer. De-stem and chop your red kale into bite-sized pieces (you can do this while the chicken is frying) and put that into the pot – cover it and allow the leaves to wilt, about five minutes.

Nestle nestle.

Give everything a good stir, and then nestle your chicken thighs back into the mix. Turn the heat to low+ – somewhere between low and medium low – and cover the pot or skillet most of the way, but make sure steam can escape. Braise the kale and chicken thighs this way for 45 minutes.

Traditionally cacciatore is served with pasta, and that’s perfectly tasty, but I personally like to serve it with brown rice because I think that the rice soaks up the sauce better. My husband insists that this recipe should also be served with grated parmesan cheese – I might put a few red pepper flakes on the table as well.

Look at all that glistening health!

*If Muir Glen Organic seems pricey (though they’re not so bad, maybe $0.25 more than store-brand for just the small tomatoes), Hunt’s also offers BPA-free can linings, I hear.  Because it’s better not to get cancer, you know?  Oh, and FYI, Muir Glen’s canned tomatoes are BPA-free, but their other canned goods aren’t, so don’t like, assume the beans are non-carcinogenic just ’cause the tomatoes are.  Of course, @javelinwarrior shamed me about canned beans so often that I bought some damned dried beans, so the point’s moot in my house now.


Speaking of @javelinwarrior, I submitted this recipe to his made-from-scratch noms blog:


Late Night Bites: The Pleasure Bar

The Pleasure BarI’ve always done my best to avoid the nine-to-five, and after a brief stint as a legal secretary in 2003, I’ve been largely successful. For the most part, I enjoy doing things at off hours; being at work or asleep during both sessions of rush hour traffic has undeniable appeal; grocery shopping is a breeze at 11pm. However, the one persistent difficulty I’ve found since the advent of a 10pm quittin’ time is restaurant patronage.

Sure, most bars are open and welcoming when I get out of work, but even those with restaurants attached stop offering food past a certain time. Too often kitchens close at 10pm, sometimes at 11pm (which is doable but can be a tight squeeze), and more rarely at midnight or 1am. I understand that it ceases to be advantageous for most restaurants to offer food after popular dinner times, and that a small number of restaurants will cater to the late night crowd, but finding those restaurants has proven more difficult than I expected.

A couple weeks ago I went to the Pleasure Bar after work on a Friday night. The Pleasure Bar is a venerable Pittsburgh institution located in the heart of the Liberty Avenue business district in Bloomfield. I’ve often dined there and drank there in the past, and it’s one of the few places in the city where I’ll go for Italian food (most Italian restaurants violate my primary law of eating out: Don’t eat food at a restaurant if I can made it better, easier and/or cheaper at home). It had been a couple years, however, since I’d eaten at the Pleasure Bar, and I had never attempted to grab a late night bite there, so I did some research ahead of time.

Inside the Pleasure BarDespite being a venerable Pittsburgh institution in business for over three decades, the Pleasure Bar does not have a website, so I had to pester their hard-working staff with a call to ask how late the kitchen would be open. I was told “Probably until 11:00″… which might help explain the lack of website, probablys being difficult to express in print.

And so, I made a point to leave work at ten on the dot, and put the pedal a little closer to the metal than usual in effort to arrive in Bloomfield by 10:30. On street parking was a breeze, and I was sitting at the bar asking if the kitchen was still open by 10:31. I was told: “For about two minutes.” Luckily, I had found amidst my research earlier that day a menu of their pub food on and so I was able to squeak my order in under the wire.

While I did not receive my order in the aforetold two minutes, service was swift and I quickly found myself with two piping hot appetizer plates and a chilly beverage. First up was an order of fried provolone that exemplified everything a gal could ask for in a plate of fried cheese: crisp breading, gooey center, hearty marinara on the side, a dusting of parmesan. The provolone wedges more than met my criteria for restaurant food, as I would never attempt to make fried cheese at home when such an ideal specimen is readily available at the Pleasure Bar for under five bucks.

My second appetizer was tasty, but mildly disappointing. The crab stuffed mushrooms came full of promise; sizable mushroom caps filled with quality lump crabmeat, baked in alfredo sauce and bubbling with baked cheese. How can you go wrong, right? While I was duly impressed with the quality of the crabmeat, I found that it lacked any sort of zip. A squeeze of lemon, a whisper of garlic, a dash of spice would have gone a long way to making these stuffed mushrooms delectable, but as it was, I found the dish a bit lackluster. Would I be able to make it better myself at home? Maybe. But would I have been able to make it cheaper? Definitely not. At $7.50 for a dish teeming with sweet lump crabmeat, these mushrooms are a great deal.

In fact, the Pleasure Bar proved to be an excellent bargain. Two quality appetizers and a couple of well drinks came to a total of $18, showing the Pleasure Bar to be a great option for starving creative types like me to find after work refreshment. Now, if only I had a better idea of how long the kitchen would “probably” be open, I would name the Pleasure Bar a prime spot for late night eating. As it is, this restaurant is a great spot for inexpensive Italian food, provided that you don’t incur any speeding tickets on your way to place the last order of the night.

Pleasure Bar on Urbanspoon