Chicken Cacciatore (recipe)

Chicken Cacciatore

Big Night, was a movie that I knew nothing about until becoming aware of it via Joelen’s Culinary Adventures “Foodie Film” event. Warm and poignant the movie centers around the ambitions of two brothers, Italian immigrants to the US, intent on making their dreams of bringing authentic Italian cuisine to the masses a reality. The passion which the main chef ‘Primo’ has for his cuisine, causes him to refuse to change any element of it for the American palate. As a result patronage suffers, as people flock to a nearby competitor which makes all the necessary adjustments to prosper.

This key tension in the storyline reminded me of local Italian restaurant Guiliano’s. Now a large spacious restaurant on Tragerete Road (in the former space of Woodford Cafe), I first became acquainted with it when it was a much smaller ‘hole in the wall’ in the heart of Port of Spain. At that time it was hard to locate a seat during traditional lunch hours, so I would take a late lunch to enjoy the paperthin pizza crusts, and fresh deceptively simple pastas. As I watched people coming in to collect ‘takeaway’ orders I would see them ask time and time again for ketchup and mustard. A request which would visibly infruriate the elderly Italian woman behind the counter. “You don’t need no ketchup and mustard. You haven’t even tasted it! Let the food shine”, I remember her saying rather heatedly to a businessman who looked quite taken aback. Silently I agreed. It’s been a pet peeve of mine for many years the tendency I see around me for people to drown their foods in ketchup, mustard and pepper sauce before ever raising a forkful to their mouth. And should more seasoning options be offered to them you can be sure that those will be poured on as well until the food is no longer visible, let alone recognizable. If one is dealing with shoddy, cheaply assembled ingredients then by all means mask away, but if this isn’t the case, why not give your tastebuds a challenge and learn to distinguish and appreciate the finer flavour profiles that many cooks and chefs have worked hard to develop and take immense pride in?

Alas, this is probably a pipe dream of mine and is no doubt the reason why almost every establishment prominently displays ketchup, mustard and pepper sauce. It’s a matter of economics. As Pascal, the brother’s main competitor in Big Nightsaid. “Give to people what they want; later you can give them what you want.” Guiliano’s uniqely seems to be one establishment which has remained successful by not compromising, however a factor that I think worked heavily in their favour was that fact that the majority of their early patrons were European ex-pats who probably needed to make no adjustment. This is not a luxury that most eateries can afford. ‘Give the people time, they learn’ was Primo’s ethos. Maybe. The question is how many restaurateurs have the time and resources to wait?

Inspired by the movie, and the directive of this event (cook something Italian) I decided to try my hand at a Chicken Cacciatore recipe from Giada de Laurentiis. This is the first time I’ve prepared one of Giada’s recipes and the result was mouth-watering! The chicken was so tender and juicy, the sauce was thick and rich and by substituting the wheat flour in the recipe with cassava flour I was even able to make it gluten-free :)

Also, inspired by this event I have decided to start a ‘Dinner and A Movie’ series here on TriniGourmet, highlighting ‘foodie films’ and even more fun, cooking my way through them! I was so captivated by the dishes and foods featured in Big Night, not least of all by the legendary Timpano, that I have challenged myself to cook every dish prepared in it, and as I do I’ll post them here :) Stay tuned!

Chicken Cacciatore
Source: Food Network/Giada de Laurentiis

INGREDIENTS:

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging (replace with your gluten-free flour of choice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves, garlic finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Chicken Cacciatore

METHOD:
1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper.
2. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.
3. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame.
4. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side.
5. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches.
6. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.


7. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
8. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
10. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano.

11. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce.
12. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

13. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.
14. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter.
15. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
16. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce.
17. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • Jaz Borden

    Oh, this had my taste buds doing a joyful jig! :-D

  • Jaz Borden

    Oh, this had my taste buds doing a joyful jig! :-D

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/ Trig

    Joel would just love you to cook him a chicken cacciatore, to make a break from all the Trini food he and Aliyyah will be eating in FIVE WEEKS TIME! You guys gotta meet up. Email me.

    Trig’s last blog post..All Tooled Up And Ready For Action

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/ Trig

    Joel would just love you to cook him a chicken cacciatore, to make a break from all the Trini food he and Aliyyah will be eating in FIVE WEEKS TIME! You guys gotta meet up. Email me.

    Trig’s last blog post..All Tooled Up And Ready For Action

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Trig – Oh they are coming down again? Yay! When it will be your turn! I’ll drop you a line :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Trig – Oh they are coming down again? Yay! When it will be your turn! I’ll drop you a line :)

  • Janice Swan

    Chicken cacciatore has always been a favourite of mine. Being Trinidadian and loving well seasoned food, I tend to season lightly with powdered ingredients and letting the chicken marinade for a while before cooking. About the article, ketchup and mustard – I have lived out of Trinidad for 40 years and could not understand the ketchup and mustard thing on the pizza – my son however was introduced to this and to this day loves it, says it adds an extra special flavour. While he still eats pizza the traditional way, there are times when “Trini” way hits the spot. Looking forward to many more recipies.

  • Janice Swan

    Chicken cacciatore has always been a favourite of mine. Being Trinidadian and loving well seasoned food, I tend to season lightly with powdered ingredients and letting the chicken marinade for a while before cooking. About the article, ketchup and mustard – I have lived out of Trinidad for 40 years and could not understand the ketchup and mustard thing on the pizza – my son however was introduced to this and to this day loves it, says it adds an extra special flavour. While he still eats pizza the traditional way, there are times when “Trini” way hits the spot. Looking forward to many more recipies.

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/ Trig

    I just found out that Joel & Alliyah are coming down in a couple of weeks from now. They’ll be in Trinidad for two weeks family holiday and then for carnival week. Email me and I’ll send you contact details.

    Trig’s last blog post..Westminster Kingsway Student Wins Stage At El Bulli

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com/ Trig

    I just found out that Joel & Alliyah are coming down in a couple of weeks from now. They’ll be in Trinidad for two weeks family holiday and then for carnival week. Email me and I’ll send you contact details.

    Trig’s last blog post..Westminster Kingsway Student Wins Stage At El Bulli

  • http://kitchencanister.blogspot.com/ melissa

    wow, that looks really delicious. I spotted your recipe off joelen’s roundup. can’t wait to see what other foods inspired by the movie you cook up!

    melissa’s last blog post..Crock Pot Chicken with Vegetables

  • http://kitchencanister.blogspot.com/ melissa

    wow, that looks really delicious. I spotted your recipe off joelen’s roundup. can’t wait to see what other foods inspired by the movie you cook up!

    melissa’s last blog post..Crock Pot Chicken with Vegetables

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