Chicken Cacciatore. Does this sound retro? Do you tilt your head to the side and wonder who makes that any more? Though when you think about it, a 70s versions that resemble some type of cat sick over rice doesn’t do much to make you say - ‘Hell yes, THAT is something I want to spend an hour (or more) cooking!’
It CAN be a good thing though. Cacciatore is really just an Italian hunter’s stew, so you can basically chuck some veggies and protein together and have something resembling the idea.
I cook it once or twice a year, and when I do, I wonder why I don’t cook it more often. I’m glad when I DO remember it - it’s a good one to have it in the back of my brain when I want something different. I made it this January during my detox/reset thing when I press my grey matter to come up with dishes that I haven’t pulled out in a long time. It’s chilly in January, so a stew of vegetables and chicken fit well into what normal cravings would be. Putting it over pureed cauliflower kept it within the parameters of what I eat then.
It’s simple. Really.
I used chicken thighs (but you can use any pieces you want - rabbit is also really good - turkey thighs would also rock). Sear them in a dutch oven in a little bit of olive oil after a generous sprinkle of salt and black pepper until the skin has a great brown color and there is some rendered fat.
Remove the pieces to a plate and then sauté your roughly chopped vegetables (adding in order of appearance):
• 1 Large onion
• 3-4 Cloves of garlic chopped
• A couple of ribs of celery
• 1 Large red or orange bell pepper
• 2 - 3 Carrots
• A couple of generous sprigs of thyme
• Salt and pepper to taste (though I tend to add a little bit of salt with each substantial addition of vegetables)
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
After these had softened a little bit, I added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, a handful of chopped baby tomatoes that were starting to look a little shriveled, and about a cup of wine (basically whatever you have that is hanging around - red, white, bubbles - doesn’t matter. Though I would avoid a sweet wine.)
After that I nestled the chicken pieces into the top of the vegetable mix (keeping the skin out of the liquid so that it would remain crispy. Pop the whole thing into a preheated 375º oven for about an hour to let everything get acquainted.
While that is cooking, you can steam a head of cauliflower and then puree it until smooth with a little olive oil (or butter) and a little bit of chicken stock (whole milk or cream).
I also served this over a bit of wilted arugula (it was in the fridge and needed to be used up) - spinach would work, dandelion greens, chard, etc. etc.
Spoon cauliflower puree into a shallow bowl, layer with wilted greens and stewed vegetables, top with chicken pieces. Eat, drink wine, and be happy.