I first made this recipe back in the mid 80’s while I was living and working for a short time in LA. I was living and hanging out with my Uncle Pete, a great cook in his own right.

I was craving the “old world” flavor of a good cacciatore and think I hit upon a recipe that ended up being perfect.

I’ve tasted many different recipes for cacciatore and the one thing I don’t like about other recipes that I have sampled is that some chefs make this dish more like a watery stew rather than a hearty textured dish.

In my opinion, the excess water poaches the chicken and wilts the fresh vegetables.

Try this on for size and see how you like it. Uncle Pete loved it.

Ingredients:

8 chicken thighs
¼ cup of olive oil
½ cup of flour for dredging
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 ½ stalks of coarsely chopped celery
1 green or red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
¾ cup of carrots diced
10-12 button mushrooms (white), cut into ¼ pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
2 ½ tablespoons of drained capers
2 ½ teaspoons of oregano
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 ½ cup of dry red wine (Chianti, Merlot, Cabernet)
1 can of diced tomatoes (28oz.), include juice
¼ - cup of chopped flat Italian parsley

How to put it together:

Salt and pepper the chicken and then dredge in flour. In a large Dutch oven pan, add ½ the oil heat over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in batches about 5 – 7 minutes per side. Once golden brown remove chicken and set aside.

Discard excess oil, but don’t scrape the pan. Add remaining oil and once oil is hot add celery, onions, carrots, mushrooms and bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium – medium-low and stir vegetables scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the pieces up. Cook vegetables for a total of 10 – 12 minutes.

Add garlic and oregano and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the red wine and increase heat to high. Stir constantly adding tomato paste. Mix sauce well, add tomatoes, lower the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally. Add capers and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add chicken back to pan, cover and place in oven, cook for about 35 minutes. Remove chicken from pan to plate, cover with foil to keep warm. Skim off excess fat from the surface. Bring pan over high heat on stove to a quick boil to reduce sauce. Add parsley. Stir and then ladle sauce over chicken and serve. Serves 6.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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