Chicken Cacciatore


Makes 4 ample servings (serving a crowd?)

Chicken Cacciatore
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium frying chicken (about 3 lbs), cut into eight pieces
  • 1 medium (8oz) onion, chopped
  • ½ stalk celery (upper half with leaves), finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8oz mushrooms, cleaned and cut into chunks rather than sliced (see notes)
  • ⅓ cup dry red wine, such as a Chianti
  • 28 oz whole tomatoes (canned ok)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)

Special equipment

Dutch oven(see notes)


Swirl oil in the bottom and sides of your Dutch oven and bring to a snap over medium high heat. In batches, place chicken pieces skin side down and brown thoroughly. Do brown the bone-side as well, but pay more attention to the skin-side.

Set aside chicken pieces. Pour off all but 2 Tablespoons of the remaining fat. Still on medium high heat, add onion, celery, garlic, and mushrooms to the oil, stirring occasionally. Cook past the stage where the mushrooms have released their juices until you have cooked down most of the juice. Stir in the Chianti, scraping the brown fond from the sides and bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

Add tomatoes, cutting or tearing the larger ones into pieces as you go and removing any green cores. Add oregano, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir in the chicken pieces. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour. Add chopped basil just before serving.


Cacciatore means ‘hunter-style’, that is, with wild mushrooms, onions, and earthy spices; see the discussion under Hunter's Chicken.

While we’ve been serving chicken cacciatore for 20 years, the old family recipe just didn’t cut it any more. It was plain and boring, not the sort of dish you’d go back and order again the next day. Time for a revamp: away with the tomato purée, give us chunks of rich, beefy tomatoes; away with the slice of mild mushrooms, give us thick wedges of earthy goodnees. Kick up the spicing, kick up the umami, add some local wine. Now we’ve got a rich, satisfying dish. Who wants seconds?

Small portabellas will serve in a pinch, but if you can find porcini or crimini, all the better.

Even in a deep Dutch oven, this is a messy prep. Anything smaller like a frying pan would lead to a stovetop disaster.


Serve with Red Pilaf

To reduce the fat and make the dish more healthful, you may want to remove the skin from the chicken pieces before returning them to stew. However, we recommend you instead trim away and discard the loose sections of skim from the pieces. This gives full flavour to your stew while reducing some of the fat, and lets your patrons decide for themselves whether to consume or discard the skin.

Hrmmm, how about a handful of olives?