When I was growing up, my family had a “brand name” cookbook – a book filled with recipes using specific brand name items.  It sounds kind of ridiculous, but we actually have a lot of favorites that came from it.  One thing that my dad made often from that book was “chicken cacciatore” – and I use the term loosely and in quotes because it was basically breaded chicken with jarred pasta sauce and melted provolone on top, served with pasta.  Almost the same as chicken Parmesan.  Yummy?  Yes.  Authentic?  NO.  

Last week I was making my menu and Ben suggested trying, “a real version of chicken cacciatore”.  I thought that was a fantastic idea as I have been meaning to try it for quite some time.  Well, this was nothing like the version from the cookbook, and it was absolutely fantastic.  According to Williams Sonoma, cacciatore is Italian for “hunter”, and hunter-style food includes mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and herbs.  All of these ingredients make a very flavorful yet healthy meal.  This is a keeper!  This makes quite a bit of sauce, so you could reduce the amount if desired.  I made the whole batch and then we ate the leftover sauce with pasta even after the chicken was all gone.

Chicken Cacciatore
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped
2 chicken breasts, butterflied in half (4 pieces total)
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
12 oz. white button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sprigs fresh oregano
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and herbs

In a deep saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes total.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon; set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to a platter.  Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the bacon, chicken, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, thyme, red wine, chicken broth, and tomatoes (including juices) to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma