Italian chicken cacciatore flavoured with rosemary and olives. A really simple and healthy chicken breast one pot, with all the ingredients of an authentic hunters style stew. Best cooked long and slow either in the oven, slow cooker, pressure cooker, one pot or any other preferred method of slow cooking.
Chicken cacciatore is a proper Italian classic and just like spag bol (ragu), risotto and pizza, its a dish that most British households are happy to adopt. Even in the warmer months this easy chicken cacciatore can be such a delight at the end of the day. It may be a hearty stew but the aromatic and earthy flavours of olives and rosemary means it will fit well with a herbed rice dish or some buttered new potatoes. If it does happen to be freezing outside and blowing a gale - then of course this just has to served with a huge pile of creamy mash potatoes. Either way, you're sorted with a fantastic meal.
Why is it called chicken cacciatore?
This simple Italian chicken stew goes back to the roots of Italy, when hunters used to make this dish with the basic ingredients they had to hand. In Italian 'cacciatore' means 'hunter' and so this dish is sometimes referred to as hunters chicken stew. Hunters style means to be prepared with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs and sometimes wine. I'm assuming the 'sometimes' means that wine was added when it was available - so, of course, in my version there is plenty of wine 🙂
What wine goes with chicken cacciatore?
As cacciatore is Italian it would be best to make with an Italian wine. My all time favourite Italian wine is Valpolicella, in particular the valpolicella amarone. Ben and I got married in this region of Italy and had this wine served at our wedding breakfast along with a fantastic amarone risotto. The Valpolicalla classico, ripasso or amarone would work well in this dish due to the robust, rich flavours. However, a full bodied montepulciano or sangiovese would also work really well. If you don't have an Italian wine to hand then any other full bodied wine will be fine, perhaps try with a malbec or strong merlot.
What is traditionally served with this dish?
Traditionally an Italian chicken casserole is served with fresh pasta - of course. Usually spaghetti, tagliatelle or fettuccine. However, as mentioned earlier, I tend to go with something that will match the time of year. As we are now heading into summer I like to make this dish with herbed rice, which is long grain and wild rice mixed with sea salt and freshly chopped parsley.
How long will it last in the fridge?
A chicken dish will last 1 to 2 days in the fridge depending on how fresh the chicken was when it was cooked. Chicken cacciatore can also be frozen in a sealed container, but it must be cooled first. Freeze for up to 3 months and thoroughly defrost before heating through until piping hot.
Serve this dish with your preferred side and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
Italian Chicken Cacciatore
For the Chicken Stew:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 750 g Chicken breast (4 breast)
- 2 tbsp Plain flour
- 200 g Shallots, peeled and left whole (20 Shallots or small onions)
- 2 Cloves garlic finely chopped
- 200 ml Italian full bodied red wine
- 160 g Baby tomatoes
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- 160 g mushrooms, roughly chopped into quarters
- 3 Sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 Handful Green and black whole olives, pitted
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1 Handful Fresh chopped parsley to garnish
- If slow cooking in the oven, pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C. Place a casserole dish on the stove top and heat up 2 tbsp olive oil on a medium heat.
- Slice the chicken breasts into large chunks (I cut each breast into 3), season with salt and pepper and dust evenly with 2 tbsp plain flour. When the oil is hot; place the chicken chunks in the casserole dish and fry on each side for around 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. The flour from the chicken will stick to the base of the dish and begin to turn brown - don't panic - leave this for the moment.
- Remove the chicken and place in a bowl and set to one side. With the casserole dish still on a medium add the peeled whole shallots and chopped garlic. Add more olive oil if needed. Cook for a minute or so before adding the red wine. The wine should sizzle as it enters the pan and loosen the brown flour from the base. Use a wooden spoon to fully remove all the flour (deglaze).
- Once the wine has reduced by at least half; add 160g whole baby tomatoes, 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, and 2 tbsp tomato puree. Mix well and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering add 160g chopped mushrooms, 3 springs of rosemary, 2 bay leaves and a handful of green and black pitted olives. Stir well and simmer for a further minute or so.
- Next return the pre cooked chicken to the casserole dish and stir in well. Bring to the boil then clamp on a lid and place in the middle of the oven for 50mins - 1hr. Alternatively transfer to a slow cooker and cook on medium for 3 hours.
- Check the stew after 50 minutes. If it appears ready then taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve the stew with herbed rice or mash or pasta