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Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore)

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An easy one-pot chicken dinner, Italian style.

Learn how to make a classic Italian dish: Pollo alla Cacciatora (Italian Hunter’s Chicken). This flavorful and hearty meal, commonly known as chicken cacciatore, is perfect for a cozy night in.

easy chicken cacciatore with rice
This one-pot Italian chicken and tomato stew is normally served over rice or polenta, not pasta.

What is pollo alla cacciatora (chicken cacciatore)?

Pollo alla cacciatora translates to “hunter’s chicken” in English. Chicken cacciatore, or pollo alla cacciatora in Italian, is a simple, one-pot chicken dinner. Chicken thighs or chicken breast is stewed in a tomato sauce with a few vegetables, usually onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers in the Southern Italian style, then served simply with red wine.

Pollo alla cacciatora is a simple stewed chicken dish (rabbit was also traditionally used) that can be made on a weeknight or a day or two in advance. It freezes well, reheats easily, and offers a nourishing, satisfying meal. Here’s how to make it.

Serve with rice, polenta, pasta, or a simple hunk of good bread.

pollo alla cacciatora ingredients
Simple ingredients make this exceptional (and easy) one-pot Italian dinner.

How to make this easy chicken cacciatore recipe

This Southern Italian-style pollo alla cacciatora recipe comes straight from my Italian-American kitchen to yours. My ancestry is Southern Italian — Calabrian — so our family recipe always used boneless chicken breast or thighs, and incorporated bell peppers and no red wine.

I have adapted my simple family cacciatora recipe to give it just a liiiittle extra oomph, with mushrooms, butter, and an optional splash of red wine for color and a little depth of flavor. Below are the details.

chicken, peppers, and tomato sauce for cacciatore
Cook the onions and peppers in a wide skillet until softened before adding the tomatoes and chicken.

Ingredients

To make this easy chicken cacciatore recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, large diced
  • 2 green bell peppers and 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, large diced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • One 28-ounce can unsalted crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (I prefer Bianco DiNapoli brand)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Pinch hot red pepper flakes (peperoncino)
  • Butter
  • Minced Italian parsley leaves, to garnish
  • White rice, polenta, or good Italian bread, to serve (more on this below)

Some styles of chicken cacciatore, such as Northern-style pollo alla cacciatora, use capers, olives, red wine, white wine, and the like. There is no right or wrong. This is a popular Italian chicken dish and recipe variations abound between regions and families. This is one. Make it your own.

stirring tomato sauce and peppers in skillet

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the sliced onions, peppers, and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the red wine, chicken broth, canned tomato, garlic, fennel seed, bay leaves, a teaspoon of salt, and red pepper.
  4. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chicken pieces. Simmer, partially covered, for an additional 20 minutes. Cook the rice while the chicken is cooking in the tomato and vegetable stew.
  6. Add the butter and stir. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. The texture should be stewy, not soupy. If it seems thin, let it simmer longer, uncovered, until excess moisture evaporates. Fish out the bay leaves.
  7. Spoon the cacciatore into wide bowls over a bed of rice or cooked, soft polenta. Garnish with a sprinkle of minced parsley.
chicken added to tomato and pepper cacciatore
Add the chicken to the tomato and peppers mixture and simmer.

General pollo alla cacciatora recipe tips and notes

Storage: This easy chicken cacciatore recipe stores well. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days, or frozen for up to two months.

Simmer, don’t boil: Once the chicken is added, it is important to just simmer the chicken, never boil. Boiling will cause the chicken to toughen up. Simmering cooks it more gently and will keep the meat tender.

Cut everything up about the same size. I cut the onions, pepper, and chicken about 1 to 1.5 inches thick.

pollo alla cacciatora served on rice

What to serve with chicken cacciatore

The best things to serve with chicken cacciatore are white or brown rice, or soft polenta. Simply-prepared mashed potatoes could work as well.

Despite many recipes that may suggest otherwise, you generally do not want to serve pollo alla cacciatora with pasta for the most authentic version. Chicken is a main course in Italy, and should not be combined with pasta, which is considered a primi, or first course.

Wine Pairing

Pollo alla cacciatora pairs well with a lighter- to medium-acid red wine that complements the acidic tomato and meaty chicken. Top wine pairings for chicken cacciatore include:

  • Chianti Classico — keep the Italian theme!
  • Cru Beaujolais (not Beaujolais Nouveau)
  • New World Pinot Noir

pollo alla cacciatora recipe served with rice

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pollo alla cacciatora recipe served with rice

Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore)

This classic one-pot Italian dinner stews up chicken, tomato, peppers, and onion into a perfect easy dinner that's hearty and nutritious.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Italian, Italian-American
Keywords:: chicken, easy dinner, italian, peppers, tomato
Servings: 4 people
Print

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, large diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, large diced
  • 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine (not cooking wine) (optional)
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can unsalted crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (I prefer Bianco DiNapoli brand)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, cut into 1" to 2" chunks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Pinch hot red pepper flakes (peperoncino)
  • Minced Italian parsley leaves, to garnish (optional)
  • Cooked white rice, polenta, or good crusty Italian bread, to serve

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. If you are serving polenta with the cacciatora, start it now.
  • Add the diced onions, peppers, and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the red wine, chicken broth, canned tomato, garlic, fennel seed, bay leaves, a teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken pieces. Simmer, partially covered, for an additional 20 minutes.
    TIP: Start cooking the rice when the chicken is added to the tomato and vegetable mixture. If you want to serve creamy, non-instant polenta, you will need a full hour or so, so start early.
  • Add the butter and stir. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. The texture should be stewy, not soupy. If it seems thin, let it simmer longer, uncovered, until excess moisture evaporates.
  • Fish out the bay leaves. Spoon the cacciatore into wide bowls over a bed of rice or cooked, soft polenta. Garnish with a sprinkle of minced parsley and red pepper flakes.

Notes

What to serve with chicken cacciatore

The best things to serve with chicken cacciatore are white or brown rice, or soft polenta. Simply-prepared mashed potatoes could work as well.
Despite many recipes that may suggest otherwise, you generally do not want to serve pollo alla cacciatora with pasta for the most authentic version. Chicken is a main course in Italy, and should not be combined with pasta, which is considered a primi, or first course.

Other tips:

Storage: This easy chicken cacciatore recipe stores well. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days, or frozen for up to two months.
Simmer, don’t boil: Once the chicken is added, it is important to just simmer the chicken, never boil. Boiling will cause the chicken to toughen up. Simmering cooks it more gently and will keep the meat tender.
Cut everything up about the same size. I cut the onions, pepper, and chicken about 1 to 1.5 inches thick.

Wine Pairing

Pollo alla cacciatora pairs well with a lighter- to medium-acid red wine that complements the acidic tomato and meaty chicken. Top wine pairings for chicken cacciatore include:
  • Chianti Classico — keep the Italian theme!
  • Cru Beaujolais (not Beaujolais Nouveau)
  • New World Pinot Noir

3 comments

  • Jillian

    5 stars
    We loved this recipe. It is an easy recipe that only requires one pot, other than the one you use for the rice or pasta to serve this with.

  • 5 stars
    I served this for a family dinner the other day. It was a hit! I honestly don’t often think about Italian food being served with rice, but it really did taste just right. I will make this again. We didn’t have enough leftovers to freeze, but does this freeze well? Thank you for another great recipe!

  • Sofia M.

    5 stars
    Exactly like I have always made it, with the addition of red wine and I love the bit of fennel seed. It gives it a nice flavor. This was delicious and easy to make. Chicken came out tender and not dry with this method.

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