Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

In case you were wondering; Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. Cacciatore refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine. Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken or rabbit. “Hunter-style” cooking boils down to a popular method of cooking – better known as one-pot method. It makes sense when you think about it – I just can’t see a bunch of hunters doing the dishes, can you?

When I hear the term “hunter-style”, I don’t envision modern men in bright orange vests traipsing through the woods with high-powered rifles. What springs to mind are fur-clad bearded men with bows and arrows. Maybe not cave men, but pretty darn close. Rugged men with large appetites. While my men might not be the most rugged of beasts, the large appetites are none the less apparent and in need of satisfaction. This wonderful dish, over a nice bed of pasta, does the trick.

By removing the skin from the thighs, it reduces the fat and greasy mess of chicken skin. By leaving the bones in, the flavor is intense (like a good bone-based soup) and the chicken holds its shape rather well. The end result are big, flavorful chunks of meat floating a nice tomato base.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore
8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh herbs such as basil or parsley for topping
1 lb linguine

Quick method: Season chicken with salt and black pepper and place in the slow cooker. Pour tomatoes over the chicken, top with onions and peppers, add oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper, give it a quick stir and cover.

Set crock pot to LOW 8 hours or HIGH 4 hours. When the timer beeps, remove lid and keep the crock pot on HIGH one hour to help it thicken.

Better method but requires more prep:  Heat a large skillet over medium-high, lightly spray with oil  and brown chicken on both sides a few minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add to the slow cooker.

To the now empty skillet, spray with a little more oil and add onions and peppers. Sauté until juices release and the vegetables become golden, a few minutes.

Add to the slow cooker. Pour tomatoes over the chicken and vegetables, add oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper, give it a quick stir and cover. Set crock pot to LOW 8 hours or HIGH 4 hours.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, make the pasta. Let the pasta cook al dente, drain well. Place on a large serving platter.

Remove bay leaf from crock pot. Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle chicken with plenty of sauce over the pasta and enjoy! (Don’t forget to pull out the bones – yeah, it’s a pain but bones add more flavor. Don’t want to mess with the bones? What can I tell you – use boneless thighs).

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