This is a delicious, robust Italian one pot dish
Cacciatore means ‘Hunter’ in Italian and as the name implies it is ‘hunter style’.
The hunting season opened when we were in Tuscany. The Italians are enthusiastic hunters and within a day the once silent countryside became a ‘war zone’!
It was originally used for rabbit and often prepared over an open fire at the end of the hunt. Being Italian, there are always tomatoes, olives, red wine, garlic and veggies at hand!
When I harvested olives this week, I just had to prepare a dish using my olive supply in the pantry. It was a cooler day and my mind immediately went to Cacciatore.
As mentioned, it is traditionally used for rabbit, but for some reason I dislike eating rabbit, mainly for personal emotional reasons that I will not delve into now! For those of you living in the Cape, you can buy rabbit from Wild Peacock Products in Stellenbosch.
If you don’t like peppers or olives, then this one is not for you! The flavours are robust and the red wine and tomatoes cook to a beautiful rich sauce.
You can omit the chilli. I always stock up with a few bags of chilli & herb mix that you find in every Italian market and deli. They use it in many dishes including the well known Arrabiata Pasta Sauce. If you haven’t a stash of this, then use a mix of chilli flakes and oregano. When we were cooking in Tuscany last September (how the world has changed since then!) we had a jar on the kitchen counter and used it liberally.
Traditionally skin on, bone-in chicken portions are used. As I’m desperately trying to reduce the calorie intake I have opted for chicken breasts. You will see in the detailed recipe that you add the chicken at different stages depending on the skin & bone or fat free breasts. It is imperative to brown the chicken skin, as there is nothing worse than a piece of pale flabby chicken skin in a dish! If skinless breasts are added too early they become dry.
As this is one of those rustic one pot dishes that is packed with veggies, all you need to serve with it is the starch element which may be in any form you desire. Italians would favour a ribbon pasta, but baby potatoes or rice will be just as good. Or how about a serving of creamy polenta?
As this is a hearty dish with red wine, your wine pairing would be a fruity red. In Tuscany a Chianti would be served.
With the cooler weather heading our way, this is an ideal fireside meal.