Hunter’s Wife’s Chicken (AKA Chicken Cacciatore)

According to folklore this central Italian dish dates to the Renaissance. Cacciatore translates hunter. It is thought that the first cacciatore was not made with chicken at all, but with rabbit (as it often still is), or other wild game. I’ve heard it said that if the hunter returned without something more substantial that the wife would make it out of chicken. Who knows the real story? But we do know it is delicious!


This dish can be found in my first novel, Deception in Siena, where it is prepared by Antonio Cortese’s (our protagonist) sister and aunt.

Many recipes use peppers. However, I consider it more of an Autumn dish, a time when peppers would not have been available. Thus, I’ve made my recipe with carrots, onions, mushrooms, and olives.
My favorite way to serve this is over polenta. You can also serve it over pasta or mashed potatoes. My wife
and I are currently on the Keto diet, so I served it with faux mashed potatoes made with cauliflower which made it a Keto friendly recipe!

I strongly suggest that you assemble and pre-prep all of your ingredients before you begin to cook, a step the French call mis en place (everything in its place). It will help you not to burn anything or leave anything out.

Use whatever cuts of chicken you want or this. I used thighs and a chicken breast. The breast was huge, so I deboned it and cut it into a few smaller pieces.

The next step after slicing and dicing is to heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large, flat-bottom skillet over medium-high heat until oil begins to shimmer. Place chicken in a single layer in the skillet and cook until golden brown—3 to 4 minutes per side depending on thickness of chicken–until firm to the touch when pressed (this indicates doneness). Transfer to a plate or tray atop paper towels.

Next, reduce heat to medium and add mushrooms, onion, and carrots. Sauté, stirring occasionally until onions and carrots are softened. Add garlic and herbs and sauté an additional one to two minutes.

Add the white wine and use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the pan bottom (this step is known as deglazing). Simmer until wine is reduced by about half.

Add canned tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you do. Add olives, tomato paste, and the remaining olive oil.

Add about a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Stir together well. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning to your liking (I almost always add more, but I love salt!).
Add chicken to sauce, along with any juices on the plate. Turn to coat lightly. Cook together for 4 to 5 minutes.

Thank God for his goodness as shown in this wonderful meal you are about to partake of!

4 servings

  • 2 pounds of chicken cuts of your choice (see Frankie’s Tips)
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces mushrooms—sliced thick
  • 1 medium onion—diced
  • 2-3 carrots—diced
  • 3-5 cloves garlic—minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary—chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley—chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 to 5 oz. olives of your choice
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Procedure:

  1. Pre-prep all ingredients (a step the French call mis en place). Salt and pepper chicken on both sides.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large, flat-bottom skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Place chicken in a single layer in the skillet and cook until golden brown—3 to 4 minutes per side depending on thickness of chicken–until firm to the touch when pressed (this indicates doneness). Transfer to a plate atop paper towels.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add mushrooms, onion, and carrots. Sauté, stirring occasionally until onions and carrots are softened. Add garlic and herbs and sauté an additional one to two minutes.
  4. Add the white wine and use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the pan bottom (this step is known as deglazing). Simmer until wine is reduced by about half.
  5. Add canned tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you do. Add olives, tomato paste, and the remaining olive oil.
  6. Add about a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Stir together well. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning to your liking (I almost always add more, but I love salt!).
  7. Add chicken to sauce, along with any juices on the plate. Turn to coat lightly. Cook together for 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Thank God for his goodness as shown in this wonderful meal you are about to partake of.

Buon appetito! I hope you enjoy this recipe! Frankie

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