Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian and Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian dish that is traditionally made with peppers, tomatoes, chicken and is braised. Sometimes the chicken is dredged in flour before cooking, but I just browned it over high heat to create a delicious crust. I had been craving Italian food for a few days (and not the South Beach friendly kind..I wanted pasta) and thought this would be wonderful. This recipe started off pretty traditional in my head, but while I was at the grocery store getting the ingredients it evolved into this. I really love the roasted piquillo peppers and fire roasted tomatoes in this dish. The smokiness adds a whole other level of flavor that isn't too overpowering at all. I served this over whole wheat orzo, but honestly, it didn't even need it. Again, if calories weren't an issue here I would have served this over some hot, al dente linguine because that is my long pasta of choice. I'm not a fan of spaghetti. I think it is boring. Same with angel hair. I don't like it. 

Whoa...did I get off topic there or what! Here's the recipe!

Chicken Cacciatore

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped 
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved (quarter the larger ones)
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 jar roasted piquillo peppers, drained and coarsely chopped (use roasted red peppers if unable to find these)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves
1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season both sides of chicken breasts with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook about 3 minutes on the other side. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Add the onions, mushrooms, green bell peppers, piquillo peppers and ½ tsp salt to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and spinach and cook stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Turn the heat up to high and quickly add the broth, scraping the pot bottom and edges with a wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Stir in the tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, thyme and pepper. Add the chicken breasts back to the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour at 325 degrees. This is great served over any type of pasta. 

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