Did you know that Cacciatore means hunter? Chicken Cacciatore, traditionally speaking, is a stew that was easy for a hunter to prepare at camp with only a large pot to cook in. Traditionally speaking, it was made of chicken or rabbit and whatever else could be found – herbs, wine (red in the north, white in the south) and spices. Traditionally speaking, tomatoes weren’t part of the dish. Today, tomatoes and a tomato based sauce is commonly found in Cacciatore. And this is “today”, so I’m going with the less traditional, more modern rendition of Cacciatore, so no hunting and gathering required. Just a few basic ingredients (bet you have them on hand) and a nice, big crock pot.
Truth be told, the last thing I wanted to do this morning was to start tonight’s dinner. I was trying something new, inspired by a recipe I found on skinnytaste.com. As usual, I had my own take on the dish, and reluctantly set about the task of getting everything thrown in my crock pot while sipping my morning coffee. Motivation was not forthcoming and I almost scrapped the idea all together. But then what? Winging it? Fast food? Nope, I had to follow through and stick to the plan. Boy, was I glad I did because dinner was wonderful. The smells coming from the kitchen when my guys walked through the door told me this dish was worth the effort. And my hungry guys going for seconds was all the approval I needed to know I had a hit on my hands. Yep, this is a keeper.
What I like about this dish, besides the rich flavor, is the fact that in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta you can have a wonderful supper on the table. Pour a nice glass of wine, toss a salad and you’re all set. After a long day, who among you doesn’t long for simplicity at the end of the day? Plus, unless you’re cooking for a crowd or large family, there are plenty of leftovers for home-cooked lunches later in the week. Love those kinds of meals. Something for now, something for later.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
10 Bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 Cup Flour
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Basil
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cans Italian Style Diced Tomatoes (14 oz each)
1 Orange Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
1 Onion, cut into strips
3 Garlic Cloves, pressed
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce (thick style or homemade)
1 lb Pasta, see choice suggestions below
In a shallow bowl or pie pan, mix flour with seasoning. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Remove skin from thighs, but leave the bone intact. (This will add a richer flavor to the finished dish as the chicken bones “stew” all day).
Season chicken with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and brown in the skillet, about 3 minutes or so per side.
Place chicken in a large crock pot. Pour tomatoes over chicken. Press garlic into pot and stir to blend. Place strips of sweet peppers and onions on top. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours. (Longer is good, too. Lord knows, my twelve-hour days rendered a very rich, falling off the bone dish that my guys loved).
Remove lid, add spaghetti sauce and let continue to cook uncovered for about 30 minutes on high. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning to your liking. If you have them, sliced brown mushrooms are a nice finishing touch. Just add with the spaghetti sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
While the sauce thickens, it’s the perfect time to bring a large pot of water to a bubbling boil and cook up the pasta of your choosing.
When ready to serve, fish out the bones, then ladle the chicken over the pasta of your choosing.
Bigoli: A thick spaghetti-like pasta that is soft, made with whole wheat rather than durum wheat. Authentic Bigoli is sometimes made with duck eggs.
Bucatini: A thick, spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center like a thin straw
Capellini: A very thin spaghetti, often coiled into nests. These nests make for attractive presentations for a number of sauces
Fedelini: Another thin form of spaghetti.
Vermicelli: A traditional pasta that is round like spaghetti, but thicker.
Also good choices would be the standard pastas we all keep in our pantry such as Fettuccine, Linguine or Spaghetti.