Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) is a chicken recipe typical of traditional Italian cuisine. It’s a classic dish of home cooking, tasty and flavorful.
Everyone in Italy has cooked it at least once, from north to south. For this reason it’s obvious that there cannot be a unique and precise recipe for Pollo alla Cacciatora. Exactly as it happens for the spezzatino recipe or other classic dishes of family tradition.
Although the basic ingredients of cacciatore recipe are common, the quantities, spices and other ingredients vary from region to region, even from family to family.
Some people greatly increase the amount of celery, carrots and onion to make a vegetable sauce. Others cook chicken with white wine and some with red wine. Some prefer chicken cacciatore without tomatoes. Others add olives, parsley, mushrooms or peppers.
We are now going to show you the recipe for traditional Italian chicken cacciatore, the one most popular in central Italy, especially in Tuscany and Marche.
This version is with tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. As the chicken slowly cooks in the tomato sauce, it becomes soft and the meat absorbs all the flavors of the spices.
Chicken cacciatore tastes delicious and is easy to prepare even for those who are not experienced in cooking.
If you love timeless recipes, those that taste of home, family and tradition, chicken cacciatora is the dish for you.
How to Make Italian Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)
- Prep Time: 30 Min
- Cook Time: 50 Min
- Servings: 4
Note : You can use whole chicken cut into pieces or just the thighs if you prefer. For 4 servings you need at least 8 pieces of chicken, complete with their skin and bones.
- 1.5 kg (3 lb) of chicken
- 450 g (1 1/2 cups) of peeled tomatoes or tomato passata
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 small stick of celery
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 150 ml (1/2 cup) of red wine
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- a handful of pitted black olives (optional)
- salt and ground black pepper to season
Step 1) – To make chicken cacciatore, start by preparing the chicken. If you bought it whole, cut it into quarters and then separate the chicken thighs, breast and wings. Remove excess fat but do not remove the skin completely.
Step 2) – Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and seeason with salt and pepper, then add rosemary, garlic, half a glass of wine and two tablespoons of oil. Stir and cover. Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Step 3) – Meanwhile, prepare the soffritto. Peel the onion, peel the carrots and finally remove the tuft from the celery. Then cut everything into very small pieces.
How to Cook Chicken Cacciatore
Step 4) – In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. It doesn’t take long for the skin of the chicken to release its fat during cooking.
Now put in the chicken pieces well drained from the marinating liquid (but keep it aside because we will need it for cooking). Cook over high heat for a few minutes, turning it on all sides.
Step 5) – When the chicken has browned in all its parts, especially the skin, add the chopped vegetables and the marinating liquid with the garlic and rosemary. Stir everything well and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
Now raise the heat and deglaze with the remaining red wine. Let the alcoholic part evaporate completely. Then turn the heat down.
Step 6) – Remove the garlic and rosemary, add the peeled tomatoes with their juice for a rustic tomato cacciatore sauce and stir.
Step 7) – Cover with a lid and cook over moderate heat for about 45 minutes. If you like, add some pitted black olives (optional).
Obviously the cooking time depends a lot on the size of the chicken pieces. However definitely not less than 30 minutes from now. The chicken is ready when the meat pulls away from the bones and the sauce has set.
If the sauce is too runny, cook for another 5 minutes without the lid, turning up the heat.
When cooked, add salt and pepper to your taste. Then let the chicken rest for a few minutes before enjoying it. Add a little fresh rosemary and serve this traditional chicken cacciatore hot.
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How to Serve Traditional Chicken Cacciatore
Recipe for Chicken cacciatore in Italy is a second course, usually served with mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables or Peperonata.
Chicken cacciatore is an appetizing and inviting dish of home cooking, ideal for any occasion, whether for a Sunday lunch with the family or a dinner with friends.
You can store chicken cacciatore for 2 days in the refrigerator well covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
The day after preparation, chicken cacciatore is even softer and tastier. Like all stews, it will benefit from resting, developing a more intense flavor.
When it’s time to serve it, simply heat it well and bring it to the table (in a pan or microwave).
If you prefer, you can freeze it once cooked, obviously only if you have used fresh ingredients.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
To make chicken cacciatore you can use chicken pieces with the bone and skin on, as per tradition. In this way, the sauce will be more flavorful and the meat more juicy and tender.
Of course, if you want a less fatty dish, you can remove the skin and eliminate the fat of the chicken as much as possible.
For the sauce you can use peeled tomatoes or tomato passata. In the summer season, you can use very ripe and tasty fresh tomatoes.
An idea is to use the tomato and vegetable sauce in which the chicken is cooked to season pasta or potato gnocchi.
Wine is a key ingredient in this recipe. You use it for both marinating and cooking. Traditionally they use red wine, preferably typical of central Italy such as Chianti.
Many prefer to use white wine. Perhaps for an aesthetic question. Red wine, in fact, gives the chicken a dark color.
The “white” version (without tomatoes) of the chicken cacciatora is also very popular. We recommend using red wine for the “red” version and white wine for the tomato-free recipe.
Pollo alla Cacciatora: the Best Regional Variants.
The recipe we have shown you is the Tuscan-Marghigiana version of Pollo alla Cacciatora, with tomato, garlic and rosemary. These are the most known variants but, as we said in the introduction, every place has its own version indeed every family!
Now let’s see which are the most popular regional chicken cacciatore recipes in Italy.
Roman Style Chicken Cacciatore (Lazio)
Exquisite and very popular is also the Roman Chicken Cacciatore recipe. This version is without tomato.
The chicken is salted, peppered and browned in a saucepan with olive oil, garlic, sage and rosemary. It’s then deglazed with white wine, covered and left to cook for about 40 minutes.
Chicken Cacciatore with Anchovies and Capers (Umbria)
In the Umbrian version, the chicken is browned with garlic and rosemary and then they add chopped anchovies and capers, tomato passata and lemon juice. Cook for 40 minutes.
Italian Chicken Cacciatore Recipe: Origins and Curiosities
Chicken Cacciatore or Chicken “alla Cacciatora” is a typical dish of Italian cuisine that comes from the peasant tradition of our country.
As we have already said, there are many Italian regions that claim its paternity, especially those of Central Italy, where this recipe is best known.
In Tuscany, Marche and Umbria, they make this recipe with different local variations but with fixed points: the use of red wine to blend it and aromatic herbs such as rosemary and garlic.
What does “alla Cacciatora” Mean?
The Italian name cacciatore means hunter in English. But why is this recipe based on chicken called “alla Cacciatora” even though chicken is not a wild hunting animal but a farmyard animal?
Most likely Cacciatore or alla Cacciatora, which means ” hunter’s style”, refers to the use of garlic and rosemary. In fact, at one time the hunters used garlic and rosemary to flavor their prey at the moment of capture.
The denomination “alla Cacciatora” is in fact also used for other types of meat cooked in the same way and with these ingredients, such as Rabbit alla Cacciatora or Lamb alla Cacciatora.