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.
4 chicken thighs
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.
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.
*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: