This recipe for Family Favourites #6 is by V, who blogs at Life Is In The Small Things. V is an energetic mother of two children, and an amazing party planner for her children's birthdays. She is a Jamie Oliver fan like I am, and I have always enjoyed reading the recipes she occasionally shares on her blog, because they are always so 'me'!
Let's welcome V!
"Cacciatore" means "hunter" in Italian, so this dish is really chicken prepared "hunter-style". Think chicken braised in a rich tomato sauce with herbs and wine. There are many versions of Chicken Cacciatorre around, but I like mine with mushrooms and without the bell peppers. And yes, I do use wine in my cooking, even when the kids will be eating the dish. This recipe calls for a cup of sherry. I believe the cooking process, which is fairly prolonged in this case, is sufficient to evaporate the alcohol, leaving the concentrated flavour which I find greatly enhances the taste of the dish. However, if you're uncomfortable with this, feel free to replace the sherry with chicken stock instead.
This dish does take a while to cook because it needs to simmer on the stove for about an hour. But if you factor in some lead time, the steps are really rather straightforward, and I assure you the results are worth it!
4-6 pieces of Chicken Thigh
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons of Oil, separated
4 cloves of Garlic, smashed
2 Bay Leaves
1 Onion, chopped
200g (1 package) White Button Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of Sherry
2 400g tins of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 cube of Vegetable Stock
1 tbsp of Dried Oregano
4 servings of Spaghetti (or other favourite pasta)
Parsley for garnish
1. Wash and pat dry chicken thigh pieces, then season generously with salt and pepper.
2. In a large pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over high heat. When the pan is hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan skin-side down to cook. When the chicken has nicely browned (about 10-12 minutes), flip the chicken over to brown the other side. When both sides are browned, remove to a separate plate to drain. (I prefer to do this in batches so as not to overcrowd my pan and allow the chicken to brown more evenly.)
3. In a separate pot, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and bay leaves, stirring till fragrant.
4. Lower the heat and add the onions. Continue to cook the onions until tender, stirring occasionally.
5. Add mushrooms to the onions and continue cooking until the mushrooms start to release their moisture. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally as mushrooms start to brown.
6. At this point, add the cooked chicken pieces, which you had set aside earlier, into the pan with the onion and mushroom mixture.
7. Add the sherry, vegetable stock cubes and oregano. Add tinned tomatoes with the juice from the can, and use your spatula to break the tomatoes into small pieces. Cover and lower the heat to simmer for 60 minutes. You might like to adjust the seasoning at this point.
8. While the chicken is cooking, cook pasta according to the instructions on its packaging and set aside.
9. After 60 minutes, remove the chicken and increase the heat to high. Cook the sauce uncovered for about 3-5 minutes, to reduce it and allow the sauce to thicken.
10. Divide the chicken on to individual plates and pour the sauce over. Serve with spaghetti or any other pasta of your choice.
Cooking Notes: ♥ I use actual drinking sherry in this dish, but you can also use cooking sherry, which is readily found on supermarket shelves. Do note that these are usually salted and you will need to adjust the seasoning accordingly. ::