Cacciatore, which means “hunter” in Italian, is a rustic country dish most often made with chicken, but also sometimes with rabbit. This version is full of meaty mushrooms—as a hunter might find in the woods—and tomatoes. This dish is at its best if you brown the chicken before cooking it, but the browning step can be skipped if you’re in a hurry. Serve it with crusty bread or over freshly cooked pasta.
- 1 chicken, 4—5 lb (2—2.5 kg), cut into 8 serving pieces, trimmed of excess skin and fat
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 lb (250 g) cremini mushrooms, brushed clean and halved or quartered if large
- 1 can (28 oz/875 g) whole plum tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with your hands
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
PREP: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a nonreactive bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the lemon juice, garlic, and thyme. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
BUILD FLAVOR (OPTIONAL): Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels; discard the marinade. Put a flameproof slow-cooker insert (or frying pan) on the stove top over medium-high heat, then add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and warm until hot. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken pieces and cook, turning frequently, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
QUICK COOK: If you have included the browning step, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the insert or frying pan and return the insert or pan to medium-high heat. If you are starting here, put a flameproof slow-cooker insert (or frying pan) on the stove top over medium-high heat, then add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and warm until hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 3–5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 6–8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, capers, anchovy paste (if using), and broth. Raise the heat to high and deglaze, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil.
SLOW COOK: Transfer the insert (or the contents of the frying pan) to the slow cooker and add the chicken. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 6 hours. The chicken should be tender and opaque throughout.
ASSEMBLE: Transfer the chicken to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard as much fat as possible from the surface of the cooking liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer on the high-heat setting and cook, uncovered, until reduced and thickened, 5—10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
SERVE: Spoon the cooking liquid over the chicken and serve right away. Serves 6-8.
Recipe excerpted from Quick Slow Cooking by Kim Laidlaw.