Back in the old days, hunters would cook their game in wine to mellow out the flavors and would add the things one might find in the woods or in the kitchen garden like onions and mushrooms. It was a very rustic and simple dish.
I'm not sure how that was translated in the United States as chicken cooked in tomato sauce with peppers and onions, and the occasional mushroom depending on the cook. But then again, to me it doesn't matter. It's like having dinner at my favorite neighborhood "red sauce", Italian-American restaurant. It may not be authentic. It may be Italian food as translated by Americans far removed from their immigrant ancestors, but so what? It's still good. In fact, chicken cacciatore is a big favorite of mine when I visit those inauthentic restaurants.
I had bought some cans of tomatoes on sale a couple of weeks ago figuring I'd always use them. I've been on a bit of a budget this week and thought it would be a good time to use one. Chicken seemed like a good option. I have also been a bit time crunched, so I'm not all that inclined to slowly stew bone-in chicken parts. My cacciatore was going to be a slightly quicker version with all of the traditional elements for both the Italians and the Americans.
Since my recipe is so inauthentic, I decided to set a trap and catch a Tory. What I'll do with that Tory once I have it is beyond me (just throw it back I suppose). I thought about catching a Tori instead. But which Tori would I catch? Catching Tori Amos would be cool. Tori spelling not so much.
How inauthentic is my recipe? Let's see.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They cook quickly and have way more flavor than breasts.Tomatoes. Everyone associates tomatoes with Italy. Come on! They're indigenous to the western hemishpere. Okay, so Italians have been eating them for centuries. So what? What if that hunter caught his game in the fall when it's past tomato season?
My other starring players. (Am I beginning to plagarize Ree or Cathy here?) The peppers, onions, garlic, and shrooms. I don't normally like cooked green peppers, but I love the flavor they add to dishes like this.
Put it all together and serve with polenta squares. I'm obsessed with polenta these days.
This recipe does require a bit of slicing and chopping on the part of the cook, but once it's all cut up, it comes together fairly quickly because of the boneless chicken. The vegetables smell wonderful when you cook them. You know the dish is going to be good even if it's not "real" cacciatore. It is a delicious and satifsying weeknight meal. I received rave reviews from the Other Half.
Chicken Catch A Tory (Quick and inauthentic chicken cacciatore)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2 Tbl olive oil
1-2 onions (depending on size) finely diced
10 oz. mushrooms (I like cremini) thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced small
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 cup hearty white wine
Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and brown in a pan with the olive oil on both sides. Remove from pan.
Add the mushrooms, onions, and pepper. Cook until softened. Add in tomatoes and wine. Adjust seasoning. Allow to cook down a minute or two.
Add chicken back into pan and simmer until cooked through.
Serve with pasta, polenta, crusty bread, or whatever else you like to soak up your sauce.