When I used to think “date night”, I didn’t think “chicken”. Medium-rare steaks, juicy pork tenderloin, butter-drenched lobster; sure. But chicken? Nah. It’s just too boring. Too bland. Not sexy enough.
However, after 3 years of James begging me to make Chicken Cacciatore, I finally caved. I had eaten it before– a simple meal of tomatoes, peppers, and chicken– and while I thought it was alright, it was nothing I’d bother making myself if not for the push. I’ve got to say, I was shocked when it wound up being tender, satisfying, and oh-so-deeply flavorful this time around.
Fresh tomatoes, peppers, pearl onions, and herbs made the dish, half of which were whizzed in the blender with a bit of chicken stock and a splash of balsamic vinegar to make the broth. The remaining veggies were placed in underneath the chicken, both to absorb the juices and to prop the chicken up slightly so that it didn’t get soggy.
While Chicken Cacciatore usually calls for braising the chicken, I prefer to leave my pan lidless and not fully immerse the chicken so that the skin stays ultra crisp and lends some extra texture. Who doesn’t swoon over crispy chicken skin surrounding ultra tender thighs?
And swoon is exactly what James did when I made this, by the way. He has been talking about it ever since. Constantly. I guess I’ve got to make it again soon, not that I’m complaining of course. Maybe I’ll even make it for Valentine’s Day!
Make sure you serve your Chicken Cacciatore with bread and noodles to soak up all of that broth. You will be licking your plate when all is said and done. It is that good.
- 4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin intact
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 lbs tomatoes (I like using various sizes and colors of tomato)
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 small orange bell pepper, sliced
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 10 pearl onions, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Crushed red pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon brined capers, drained
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- Pasta and bread, to serve
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess. Set aside.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken all over and then remove to a plate.
- In a blender, combine half of the tomatoes, half of the peppers, the chicken stock, the tomato paste, the balsamic vinegar, and the dried herbs. Pulse until smooth.
- Add the garlic and the pearl onions to the pan. Saute for a minute. Add in the remaining peppers and tomatoes. Saute for an additional minute. Pour in the tomato broth mixture and stir in the sugar and capers. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pan, placing it on top of the tomatoes, peppers, and onions so that it is only partially submerged in the broth. Cook for an additional minute and then transfer to the oven, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has reduced, about 45 minutes-1 hour.
- Mix in fresh basil and serve with pasta and bread.