Every family has their easy chicken recipes for a quick weeknight dinner, but it’s easy to get stuck recycling the same go-to meals. Instead of roasting an herbed chicken breast for the third time this month, consider trying this saucy, flavorful chicken cacciatore.
In this episode of To Eat With Love, our Mediterranean diet cooking show, nutritionist Fiorella DiCarlo, RD, CDN, cooks an Italian chicken cacciatore, which is a traditional peasant dish with a sauce made of onion, garlic, tomato, and herbs. There are other forms of cacciatore, such as rabbit, but chicken is the most popular version, especially in the United States.
For this chicken cacciatore recipe, use a whole chicken. Although white meat is known for being lower in fat than the dark meat, the thigh and leg contains higher levels of healthy minerals such as iron and zinc. To lower the fat, consider removing the chicken skin before cooking.
You’ll then dredge the chicken pieces in flour and black pepper. You can use your preferred flour, so consider a whole wheat flour to increase the fiber content, or almond or brown rice flour if you need your recipe to be gluten free. One trick to dredge with ease is by combining the ingredients in a large plastic bag. With a few shakes, you’ll dredge every piece at once!
Next, sear the chicken in a hot pan of olive oil, which is a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Avoid moving, flipping, or turning the meat repeatedly; instead, let each side sit undisturbed in the pan until it has formed a true golden sear before flipping to the other side. After each side has seared, let it rest on a paper towel to remove any excess grease.
The sauce is cooked in the same pan. This not only makes one fewer dish to wash, but the sauce will now by infused by the flavor left behind from the chicken! Onion, green bell peppers, and garlic form an aromatic base for the sauce.
Then, the chicken is added back to the pan so it can continue cooking with those flavorful veggies. For the tomatoes, you can use a diced, crushed, or pureed version, but if you use canned tomatoes, look for low sodium brands. To give this chicken cacciatore sauce its signature Italian flavor, finish with a sprinkle of oregano and a bit of white wine.
The last ingredient is meaty, fiber-packed mushrooms. White button mushrooms are typically the cheapest and easiest to find, but cremini (also called baby bella) mushrooms are another popular choice. If you’re serving picky eaters, try chopping the mushrooms a little smaller—it makes them less intimidating.
After a little more simmering, this Italian chicken cacciatore is ready to serve! This stew can be served as is, or you can try it on a bed of whole-wheat pasta or zucchini noodles.