Cook the Book: Lidia's Simple Chicken Cacciatore

Growing up in the 70's (I know some of you weren't even born yet), Chicken Cacciatore was a big deal in many American homes.

It was basically a big stew with chicken parts on the bone, simmered for hours w/ green peppers and mushrooms in a tomato sauce. Served over pasta, this was a cheap and delicious Sunday dinner. It was actually one of the few dishes my mother made well and we kids would beg for it.

"Cacciatore" means Hunter in Italian, and this is a dish made in every region of Italy.
Each recipe a little bit different.

The hunter would come home with his rabbit or game and the wife would cook it up with whatever she had, usually in a tomato based sauce. Sometimes it would be a rooster, too old and tough to eat any other way, except cooked in a stew for hours.

I made this for a dinner party recently, and though I did not hunt and kill the chicken, I bought a nice kosher bird and cut him up. I made Lidia's recipe from Maremma, in the Tuscan Hills. It is nothing but a ton of garlic, lots of rosemary and pepperoncini (hot peppers). Simple and delicious.

I did it the Lidia way and served it over polenta with some other Lidia classics.

She makes this the day before and advises cooling the chicken in the pot with sauce.
Reheat just before serving the next day. Gets better each day.

A good bottle of Chianti was perfect with this meal, I think it must be what this wine was invented for!

Lidia's Simple Chicken Cacciatore (adapted from Lidia's Italy):

She calls this "Hunter's Style Chicken w/ Rosemary" from Maremma.

4 pound organic chicken, cut in 8 or 10 pieces
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, with lots of needled
1 tsp peperoncino (hot pepper flakes), or to taste
28 oz. canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand

Rinse the chicken and pat the pieces dry. Season all over with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Pour the olive oil in the big pan and set over medium-high heat. Lay chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down, to brown for 5 minutes. Turn them over and brown another 2-3 minutes. Scatter the sliced garlic into the hot fat, in between the chicken pieces, drop in the rosemary stems, and sprinkle the peperoncino over.

Keep turning the chicken pieces until they're nicely browned all over, 10 minutes or so, then pour in the tomatoes. Slosh the tomato can with a cup of water and pour that in too. Sprinkle over another 1/2 teaspoon salt, raise the heat and turn and stir the chicken in the tomato juices as they come to a boil.

Cover the pan, leaving a crack open, adjust the heat to maintain a steady bubbling in the pan and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning the chicken. Remove the cover and cook another 20 minutes or more until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the tomato sauce is slightly reduced but still loose.

Prepare this the day before and let the chicken cool in the pot.

Reheat on a low simmer for about 30 minutes before serving.


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Katie C. said…
Thanks for the wonderful idea for this weekend! We went freezer diving last night to find what the heck was in there taking up so much room and found a bunch of chicken thighs among other things. My rosemary plants are growing like crazy and I have a bunch of (home) canned tomatoes that I have been wanting to use - this was our first attempt. I've never made this before but it sounds very simple. What did you serve with it? Looks like broccoli rabe and something else?
Janet C. said…
This looks like the perfect dish for this Sunday! I have some pasta in the pantry that will go well with it and the broccoli rabe would be a perfect side dish. This will be the first dish I cook in 2013!
Anonymous said…
This is not the first time you've mentioned your mom's lack of culinary flair. Interesting. Any connection you see between her lack of interest in cooking and your own foodie enthusiasm? In my family, my sister and I have more or less followed my mom's lead in regard to the kitchen. It's fun to imagine how you forged you own path and evolved into the secret crazy cook Stacey Snacks.
Ciao Chow Linda said…
You know Lidia is a big influence in my cooking, but I 've never tried her cacciatore recipe. I have always included peppers and mushrooms but this version - and your table - look very inviting.
rabbi moshe said…
Why in the name of ------ does the chicken have to be "kosher"? Is this because you are jewish?

Do you know what kosher chicken even entails?

or kosher salt for that matter. cheers
Stacey Snacks said…
Though I did go to Hebrew School and had a Bat Mitzvah, one does not have to be Jewish to buy kosher chicken. I like it better than non-kosher birds. Personal preference.

And yes, I do know what kosher salt is all about, read my blog, you'll find out all about me.
Stacey Snacks said…
Regarding my mother's lousy cooking or better yet, lack of interest in food:

Sometimes cooking skips a generation!
I have always loved food, eating and preparation of it, since I was a kid. Must be from my maternal grandmother.
Anonymous said…
Lucky for you there's no pancetta in this recipe. Then you'd REALLY be in hot water. Oy vey.
rabbi moshe said…
to anon @ 6:23 too funny, I thought we might have

Stacy by the______By the way Stace...what makes

the kosher bird or Halal so much better than

the cut the head off the chicken bird? What is a BAT Mitzva?

(grin)There are no standards to show that jewish law
is any less cruel than conventional slaughter,In some instances it has been shown to b worse.
Todays kosher meat comes from the same abusive
factory farms as all other meat.(period/)want links?
P S for all you haters it is called conversation, cheers
Stacey Snacks said…
Rabbi M,
Please, why be offended? You started off pretty harsh asking me if I was a dummy or not.....I agree with you, I am sure the kosher chicken is abused the same way as the unlucky gentile bird....however, I like it better because it is saltier.

Though I am not a practicing Jew, I know much about kosher law and grew up with orthodox great grandparents.

It would be a nicer world if we were all vegetarians and liked the same politicians, but it's not that way.
Please don't stop reading or commenting! I agree, it's just conversation, so please join in.
Your points are valid and welcome.
rabbi moshe said…
I am not offended in the least. Vegetarians

and Politicians, brilliant.!!!!..They have the same ending.....

You like myself spent a great deal of time with Babba,

May B you could do a post on .."What makes

kosher so special"? and.. why you mention it a lot.

just sayin, rabbi
I saw Lida prepare this on the food network and loved hearing her pronunciation of the dish. Beautiful table Stacey! Not only do I wish I lived closer, I wish I had some fresh rosemary!
Stacey said…
One of my clients prefer Cento brand sauce products. Everytime I use it I find it has a metallic taste and I can't seem to get rid of it. I wind up putting sugar more than I'd like. At first I thought it was me and the way I was preparing it. They don't like onions so I was thinking maybe it was not being seasoned enough. Do you ever have this problem when using this sauce (w/pasta)?
Katie C. said…
I made the dish this weekend but boy did it make a mess of the stove even though I used less oil than Lidia. We also added a bunch of chopped onion and green peppers (frozen that we saved from the garden - we have a lot). As I said above, I got to use some of my own canned tomatoes. What a kick! I'm curious, did you leave the skin on the chicken when you added the tomatoes?
Stacey Snacks said…
I always leave the skin on the chicken, you can remove it later.

Thanks, Stacey
Janet C. said…
Just a note to say I made this dish on Saturday and used the same amount of oil Lidia did. I should have cut back like you did, Katie C. It was way too much oil! Luckily, I served it the next day on Sunday and was able to remove the fat which had congealed on top.

Also, I agree with you about the Cento tomatoes, Stacey. They do have a metallic taste. I much prefer Muri Glen Organic whole tomatoes.
Stacey Snacks said…
I made this again using less olive oil (the original Lidia recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil), I used even less than 1/4 cup.

I have never found a mettalic taste in Cento products, but it seems that Stacey and Janet do. Personal taste, I guess.

This is such a basic recipe, chicken in tomato sauce, you can really make it your own and season it however you like. I see some put peppers and mushrooms in it too.

I love it over polenta, but over pasta it would be great too.