Back in the Renaissance period of Italy, during the 14th-16th centuries, there was a lot of wild game and a lot of hunters. Hunting wild game was one of the main ways people ate in those times. Cacciatore was originally known as an Italian hunters’ stew, and was most often made with rabbit or other wild game the hunters caught for the day. The word cacciatore is Italian for hunter. Today, cacciatore is mostly made with braised chicken instead of rabbit or wild game and it is still known as “hunters’ chicken” in some parts of Italy. The main ingredients for the stew have not changed so much over the centuries, with the exception of chicken being the primary meat used for the stew instead of game. The other ingredients include either tomatoes and/or a tomato sauce, vegetables and wine. The vegetables, as with many regional dishes, vary depending on the region. In Northern Italy, white wine is often used and in Southern Italy, red wine is usually the wine choice for the sauce. The dish is most often served over pasta with some kind of a rustic bread, and either red or white wine depending on the wine you use for the sauce. I made a traditional Southern Italian cacciatore with braised chicken, served in traditional style. It was definitely delicious!
1-2 lbs chicken breasts
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 zucchini, sliced
1 crookneck (yellow squash), sliced
1/2 bell pepper, any color
1 1/2 TBSP garlic
1-2 cups tomatoes, medium dice
2 cups tomato or marinara sauce
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram – 2 tsp each if using fresh herbs
1 cup red or white wine
cooked pasta – fettuccine or linguine is usually best
Saute all the vegetables in hot olive oil, seasoning as needed. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove them and set them aside.
While the vegetables are cooking, mix the flour, salt and pepper together, then dip the chicken in the mixture. Lightly coat the chicken all around.
Pan-fry the chicken in the same olive oil as the vegetables, adding more if necessary. Brown the chicken completely, then remove it once it is cooked.
While the pan is still hot, carefully add the wine, and scrape the skillet to make sure to get all the droppings.
After the steam has dissipated, re-add both the vegetables, the tomatoes, the sauce and the herbs. Mix everything together well, and then add the chicken again. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the chicken and vegetables are completely cooked spoon it over pasta sand serve it with your favorite bread and wine. Delicisimo!