Stove Top Dutch Oven Chicken Cacciatore – Recipe

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Be the hunter.

Cacciatore means hunter in Italian.  This recipe then is hunter style chicken.  Before I did some internet research, I had grand visions of hunters going out in the woods for possibly days at a time, stalking the game until game and hunter crossed paths, living off the land with whatever they could find and catch, while the families waited at home for their triumphant and bountiful return.  While waiting for the big game, perhaps they were able to snare a rabbit or bird. Finding some wild tomatoes, wild onions and  wild herbs nearby, and their small catch, they were able to create a stew from nature’s store.  While the hearty stew simmered over an open fire, they sat around warming themselves, telling stories and singing songs.

I was going to compare and contrast the romantic vision above with modern-day hunters who get in the SUV, drive to a cheap motel, unload the ATV in the morning, ride out to their prepared tree stands or blinds, drink coffee, eat doughnuts, perhaps engage in a little schnapps, while waiting for the deer to come to the feeding station someone else has kindly filled for them for many weeks.  After a long day in the field they head back on the ATV, undress and shower (hopefully) at the cheap motel and meet their buddies down at the local Do Drop Inn where they drink more bad coffee and have a “home cooked” previously frozen dinner that was trucked out to the Inn that very morning.

Then I got to thinking about the romantic vision.  If you’re going out into the woods for several days and living off the land, you certainly don’t want to be carrying a 20 pound pot with you.  And I’m not sure tomatoes really grow wild.  Well maybe the family packed up some tomatoes for the hunter.  I’ve eaten wild onions, but gathering enough of them for a stew is going to take some time (and digging).  Oregano, basil and parsley?  The chance of hitting that trifecta is slim to none.

Then came the internet research.  It turns out the recipe goes back to mid-1400 (or there about).  At that time only the idle rich could afford to hunt.  Given who the hunters were, we can surmise that while there may have been a stew made from the game they caught, the hunters probably had some help making it.  Chances are that the 20 pound pot, assorted vegetables and herbs, and other camping accessories were trucked out by animal drawn cart either ahead of or with the hunting party by the household servants.  And it’s likely the hunters used their version of the ATV, possibly called horses, to arrive at the hunting site.  And while there may not have been any cheap motels or Do Drop Inns, it seems that, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Regardless, here’s the recipe.  My grandmother used to make this.  I enjoyed it then.  I enjoyed it now.  It’s simple and good.  You don’t really need a Dutch oven to make it.  Any big enough pot with a good cover should do.  For those qualifications the Dutch oven fits well.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken – or enough separate pieces to make a chicken (even one with five legs – if you’d like)

1 – 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes – diced or whole-you-crush-em tomatoes should work as well

1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/2 cup water or chicken broth

2 – medium to large onions, cut coarsely

4 cloves of garlic, cut coarsely

2 stalks of celery, coarse chop – not a traditional ingredient, but it was starting to look really wimpy in my crisper – so I used it

2 carrots – same as the celery

3 tablespoons olive oil – and a little more if the bottom of the pot starts to look dry

2 tablespoons dried oregano

3 tablespoons dried basil

3 tablespoons dried parsley

1/2 cup flour – maybe a little more

Directions

Cut up the chicken, if not already cut up.  Remove the skin from the chicken pieces. Grab the skin with a paper towel or rubber gloves and pull.  It should come off easily.  Cut/break the legs at the joints.  Remove the breast meat from the bone.  Cut the breasts into about 2 inch sized pieces.  I did not use the wings.  Rinse the chicken in clean water.  If excessively wet, pat dry with a paper towel.

Add the olive oil to the Dutch oven.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour.  Over medium-high heat, brown all sides of the chicken pieces in the oil in the Dutch oven for a few minutes in small batches.  Add more oil if the Dutch oven looks like it’s running dry.  As each batch is browned, remove the pieces to a plate and start browning the next batch.

When all the chicken is browned, turn down the heat to very low.  With a wooden or plastic spatula, loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Add the tomatoes, water and tomato paste (don’t bang the spoon against the side of an enameled Dutch oven).  Stir in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and herbs.  Bring everything up to a simmer.

When simmering, add back the browned chicken to the Dutch oven.  Stir to coat the chicken with the sauce.  Bring back to a simmer.  Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.  Cover and let simmer for about 60 minutes.  When done, the chicken will fall away from the bone and the breast pieces will break easily with a fork showing no pink in the middle.

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One Response to “Stove Top Dutch Oven Chicken Cacciatore – Recipe”

  1. trixfred30 Says:

    Really good post! my hunters chicken was pub style (its what the kids like)

    Like

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