I still distinctly remember learning about chicken cacciatore for the first time while watching an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I was thinking to myself that the ingredients to the dish were very basic, it looked pretty straightforward to make, and it really sounded good. So, the journey began to learn how to cook chicken cacciatore. After going through a few recipes, here is my hybrid version.
~ 1 green bell pepper, chopped
~ 2 cups diced tomatoes
~ 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
~ 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
~ 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1″ – 2″ pieces
~ 1/2 cup all purpose flour
~ 1 egg
~ 1 tsp salt
~ 1/2 tsp pepper
~ 3 tbsp olive oil
~ 1/4 tsp oregano
~ 1/2 cup red wine
~ 2 cups marinara / spaghetti sauce
~ 1 tsp basil
~ 2 1/2 cups (dry) penne pasta
Our first step is that we need to prepare the chicken portion for the dish. Crack an egg, beat it, and then put it aside. Take a Ziploc freezer bag and put the flour, salt, and pepper into it. Shake it to mix up the coating and to get everything even inside the bag. Dip the chicken pieces, maybe two or three at a time, into the egg first and then into the freezer bag, shaking to coat it. Once you’ve got all the pieces coated, take a frying pan and put the olive oil down and start warming up the pan. Once the oil starts to ripple a little bit, it’s all ready for the frying. If the oil starts to smoke, then it’s too hot and you’ll burn the chicken if you put it on there; we want a nice, golden color to all of the chicken pieces. Cook all of the pieces until both sides are golden brown and then remove them from the heat.
In a separate skillet (one that does have a cover), add the green peppers and garlic together with some oil. Sauté them until the garlic is browned up a bit, after which add in the chicken, diced tomatoes, the red wine, and the oregano. Simmer this with the cover on and have the stove turned to medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. When the timer hits about 15 minutes left, go ahead and start to boil a pot of water for the penne. Get that cooking and we want to have that ready by the time the sauce is ready. When the timer does ring, now add in the mushrooms and the marinara sauce and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
After those 10 minutes are up, then go ahead and taste the sauce to see how you like the flavors. Use salt and pepper to adjust accordingly, because once we add in the pasta, it might be a little more difficult to adjust the sauce flavoring. Finish off the sauce with the dried basil, and once the pasta is done, just transfer it right over from the pot to the skillet with the sauce in it. Put everything together, mix it up, and KABOOM, you now have chicken cacciatore. It’s a pretty hearty dish, with a good array of vegetables, pasta, and chicken, and a good base if you want to try to play with it by turning up the heat level or adding other vegetables. This is my third time making this variation of the dish and I’m still making very minor adjustments to it. Although the prep time for this dish might be a little longer than some, it’s definitely worth it.