Although I’ve loved cooking from a young age, I really didn’t start experimenting with new recipes until I went away to college. I was fortunate to happen upon the cookbook section of my university library one afternoon while looking for a secluded place to study. Needing to stretch my legs and take a short break, I got up from my study table and started pacing the aisle, trying to recite the nutrition definitions I was memorizing. When I decided I was done studying, I packed up my things and walked back down the aisle. I caught a glimpse of a book poking out just a bit from one of the shelves. I instinctively pushed it back in line with the other books, then turned my head to look at the title.
Long story short, I ended up marching out of the library with a stack of about 10 books in my arms (thankfully my apartment was REALLY close to campus). Over the next year or so, I checked out or read every cookbook in the library, and my hunt for the “next best” recipe really took off. I started keeping my “cook-this” list that semester of college, always adding more recipes than I can possibly cook through, but I finally tackled one of the first dishes I ever put on the list: Chicken Cacciatore.
Chicken Cacciatore isn’t anything particularly fancy, but I somehow had’t made it, even after five years on the cook-this list. Basically, it’s a slow-cooked chicken stew (nicknamed “hunter’s stew”) that usually includes peppers, onions, tomatoes, and some spices. It’s a simple, hearty meal that’s usually served over your favorite pasta.
I’ve read dozens and dozens of cacciatore recipes, but I decided to base mine on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe. We tweaked the recipe to our tastes, making a few changes and substitutions here and there, and it was delicious. I usually don’t buy or cook skin-on or bone-in chicken, but most recipes I’ve seen call for it, so I decided to give it a go. We didn’t eat the skin, but it kept the chicken nice and moist while it cooked.
Notes on the recipe:
The chicken was VERY tender, and although we served whole pieces on a bed of noodles and sauce and vegetables the first night, we ended up removing all the skin and shredding the remaining chicken for the leftovers. Both ways were delicious, but if you’re not very coordinated at removing chicken from bones (I’m not), shredded may be the way to go.
This meal gets better with time. If you like, you could make it the day before or freeze it, then cook up the noodles when you’re ready to eat it. Also, if you don’t own a Dutch oven (I have one of these) or oven-safe pot, feel free to transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish and cover with foil instead of a lid before baking.Print
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman