Friday, August 19, 2011

A Second Catch

The last cacciatore I made was less than spectacular. Cacciatore is literally a hunter's stew, but in my mind, the tomatoes and tomato flavor are what really set it apart. Charring the tomatoes was a great way to ruin an otherwise easy and memorable dish.

I call this an easy dish, because even though there are a lot of ingredients, the actual cooking is one of the most basic preparations. One where you let the stovetop do the work while you read a magazine, write thank you cards, or catch up on television. Tonight Thatboy flipped on "Ludo Bites" drawn both because it was on the Sundance Channel and because he has a thing for Chef Lefebvre ever since Top Chef Masters last year. One of the things that really resonates with me, and something I strive to do better at, is the concept of "mise en place" - or having everything ready to go before starting to cook. In Lefebvre's kitchen, he spends the day before dinner service chopping and prepping. In my kitchen, I think "Hmmm, the onions will take a few minutes to cook, I should chop the tomatoes while the onion is cooking." Which always results in me never being ready to add the required ingredients at the right time. Don't do that. Really, part of the ease of this dish is having everything ready so you can just drop it right in and walk away.

There is always debate about what wine to use in recipes, with chicken I tend to gravitate towards a white (unless I'm purposely doing a red wine sauce) and of the white family, I like a nice pinot grigio for it's dryness and ability to not overpower the dish the way a chardonnay would. Of course, this is a fabulous reason to open a bottle to serve alongside this dish, pairing the hearty chicken with a lighter summer wine. Or it would be if some of us weren't so concerned about future children's brain development.

Classic Chicken Cacciatore
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup pinot grigio
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven and brown the chicken.
  2. Add the onion and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat to a simmer and add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving.


  1. This is one of those comforting dihses so welcome at the table as the nights grow cooler.

  2. I have a great fondness for this dish. It is one of the first I learned to make and you know what they say about firsts :-). I love your recipe and would have loved to be at your table when it was served. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  3. I usually go with a good pinot when it comes to cooking wines! Love chicken favorite part is the capers.