Chicken Cacciatore is one of those dishes, that to me, always sounded a little exotic because I grew up, here in the Ozarks, calling it "Chicken Spaghetti". At our house, Mom made "Spaghetti" two ways, either with a meat (ground beef) sauce or with full pieces of chicken in a tomato sauce served over spaghetti, fettuccine, or angel hair pasta, so to us Spaghetti Bolognese and Chicken Cacciatore were "Spaghetti" and "Chicken Spaghetti".
One of the things I like about making Chicken Spaghetti is the versatility of cooking. You can dump everything into the crockpot (without dredging the chicken), you can brown the chicken and sauté the vegetables and then put everything in the slow cooker and continue on, you can brown the chicken, sauté the veggies, and then let it simmer on the stove top for a little while to meld the flavors, or you can brown the chicken, sauté the veggies, and then slip the oven save skillet into the oven for 30 minutes to finish cooking the chicken and thickening the sauce. My favorite is the last way. I like the way the oven tenderizes and browns the chicken even more, while thickening the sauce, and it sort of gives me a mental don't-have-to-watch-it break to finish up the salad or putter around the kitchen for a few minutes while it finishes.
Chicken Cacciatore (Cooked 3 Ways)
Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse
4 Chicken Pieces (Breasts, Thighs, Legs, or combination)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups Holy Quartet (or any combination of onion, red or green pepper, celery, and/or carrots)
2 cloves fresh or roasted Garlic
28 oz can diced Tomatoes
2 tsp Italian Seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each basil, oregano, marjoram, and thyme)
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp brown sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Whole Wheat Spaghetti or Angel hair Pasta, cooked al dente (2 oz dry per person)
1) Salt and Pepper both sides of the chicken. Place chicken pieces in a gallon Ziploc baggy witht he flour and another few shakes of salt and pepper, seal, and shake to "dredge".
2) Brown chicken pieces in olive oil over medium heat in a heavy oven-proof skillet, approximately 5 minutes per side. Cast iron or coated cast iron work GREAT here.
3) Set chicken pieces aside. Add a little more oil if needed and sauté the Holy Quartet (onions, peppers, celery) and Garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent.
4) Add tomatoes, paprika, seasonings, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Add chicken pieces back into pot, turning once to coat in sauce.
At this point. You can proceed one of three ways:
1) Cover and continue to simmer on stove top for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender. If sauce is too thin, remove chicken once again and place in warm oven. Increase heat under sauce and cook another 15 minutes until thickens.
2) Baked uncovered in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, tender, nicely browned, and sauce has thickened.
3) Pour all ingredients into the slow cooker and cooked on low for an additional 3 hours or until chicken is cooked through, tender, and sauce has thickened.
Serve over spaghetti or angel hair pasta.
Nutrition per 1 chicken thigh, 1/4 sauce, and 2 oz cooked pasta: Calories: 486; Protein: 20; Carbs: 78; Fat: 8; Fiber: 7.
Nutrition per 1 chicken thigh and 1/4 sauce (NO PASTA): Calories: 276; Protein: 13; Carbs: 41; Fat: 9; Fiber: 5.