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Chicken Cacciatore – Pollo alla Cacciatora

August 28, 2020 by Emily

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Chicken Cacciatore is such a classic, rustic and comforting Italian stew. Made with juicy chicken thighs in a beautiful tomato sauce flavoured with hearty vegetables, herbs, pancetta and olives. Comfort food doesn’t get much better than this, serve with creamy polenta or Italian roast potatoes.

Pollo alla Cacciatoraalla cacciatora in Italian refers to dishes cooked ‘hunter’s style’ although what hunter’s style is varies all over Italy.

This dish no matter where you are in Italy, is always simple, rustic and wholesome made with few ingredients but packed with beautiful hearty flavours.

Any dish made alla cacciatora always contains either meat, game or poultry. The other ingredients vary by region but carrot, celery and onion are a must.

Sometimes mushrooms are added and although you’ll often find tomatoes and wine in your stew they’re not always added. Bell peppers are often added in the south of Italy but we prefer our stew without them.

This recipe is absolutely delicious and really easy to prepare, it’s the perfect way to warm up and stay cosy when it’s cold out. Serve it with some crusty bread and your favourite sides for a perfect comfort food meal.

Ingredients – what you need

Our Chicken Cacciatore recipe is super simple all you need is; chicken thighs (free-range if possible), carrot, celery, onion, pancetta, olives, chicken stock, tomatoes, white wine, fresh rosemary, bay leaf and garlic. See the photo below that shows all the ingredients you need.

How to make Chicken Cacciatore – step by step

Heat olive oil in a large deep-sided skillet until hot. Sprinkle the chicken with salt then brown the chicken skin side down for 5-7 minutes until golden.

Turn the chicken around and brown on the other side for 2 minutes then remove and set aside on a plate. Drain the excess fat from the skillet but don’t wipe it clean (photos 1 & 2).

Step by step photos showing how to brown chicken and pancetta

Add the pancetta to the hot skillet and fry for 2-3 minutes. Next add the finely chopped carrot, celery and onion and saute until soft but not browned around 5 minutes (photos 3 & 4).

Once soft, add the garlic, rosemary and bay and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until you can no longer smell the alcohol (photos 5 & 6).

Step by step photos showing how to saute vegetables and prepare a chicken stew

Add the tomatoes and stock and stir everything together. Finally, add the chicken back to the pot, cover and simmer for 45 minutes (photos 7 & 8).

Uncover add the olives and simmer for a further 10 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. While the sauce is reducing you can remove the chicken to a tray and place under a broiler (oven-grill) for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin up, this is optional but gives you delicious crispy skin (photos 9-12).

Add the chicken back in and serve.

Step by step photos showing the final stages of cooking chicken cacciatore

Serving suggestions

In Italy, hearty stews like this or Peposo (a Tuscan red wine beef stew) are often served with creamy polenta, it’s smooth, creamy and buttery and perfect for soaking up all the juices.

Alternatively, you could serve this with some rustic crusty bread, Italian roasted potatoes or your favourite veggies.

Top tips and recipe FAQs

  • Chicken – Use free-range chicken if possible for best flavour.
  • Tomatoes – as with all Italian dishes the highest quality ingredients are important. Buy a brand of tomatoes you trust and won’t leave you with an acidic flavour.
  • Chicken stock – you can use chicken or vegetable stock but make sure to buy low sodium so you can control the amount of salt you add.
  • Wine – You can use a dry red or white wine to make this recipe. If you don’t want to cook with wine then you can replace it with extra stock.
What does alla cacciatora mean?

In Italian, when something is cooked or prepared alla cacciatora it means hunter’s style. It refers to rustic and simple home-cooked dishes made with meat, game or poultry and simple vegetables.

What’s the best cut of chicken to use?

You can use thighs or drumsticks to make this dish but make sure they have the skin on and bone in for best flavour. Dark chicken meat stays nice and juicy even when cooked for a long time whereas chicken breasts will dry out quicker and won’t add a lot of flavour to the stew.

Can I prepare this in advance?

Yes, like all stews chicken cacciatore tastes even better the next day. You can make everything in advance and re-heat it until the chicken is piping hot throughout then serve the next day.

Can I freeze leftovers?

Absolutely, this freezes really well. Store it in suitable containers or bags then thaw completely before reheating.

More Italian comfort food recipes you might like

If you’ve tried this Chicken Cacciatore Recipe or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
A close up of chicken cacciatore in a skillet
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5 from 1 vote

Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)

Chicken Cacciatore is such a classic, rustic and comforting Italian stew. Made with juicy chicken thighs in a beautiful tomato sauce flavoured with hearty vegetables, herbs, pancetta and olives. Comfort food doesn't get much better than this, serve with creamy polenta or Italian roast potatoes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 servings
Calories 761kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs , skin on and bone in
  • 1 large carrot , finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery , finely chopped
  • 1 onion , finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • ½ cup pancetta (80g)
  • ½ cup olives green or black (50g)
  • 1 cup chicken stock low sodium
  • 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes (400g)
  • ½ cup white wine (125ml)
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large deep sided skillet until hot. Sprinkle the chicken with salt then brown the chicken skin side down for 5-7 minutes until golden. Turn the chicken around and brown on the other side for 2 minutes then remove and set aside on a plate. Drain the excess fat from the skillet but don’t wipe it clean.
  • Add the pancetta to the hot skillet and fry for 2-3 minutes. Next add the finely chopped carrot, celery and onion and saute until soft but not browned around 5 minutes.
  • Once soft, add the garlic, rosemary and bay and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until you can no longer smell the alcohol.
  • Add the tomatoes and stock and stir everything together. Finally, add the chicken back to the pot, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Uncover add the olives and simmer for a further 10 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. While the sauce is reducing you can remove the chicken to a tray and place under a broiler (oven-grill) for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin up, this is optional but gives you delicious crispy skin.
  • Add the chicken back in and serve.

Notes

  • Chicken – Use free-range chicken if possible for best flavour.
  • Tomatoes – as with all Italian dishes the highest quality ingredients are important. Buy a brand of tomatoes you trust and won’t leave you with an acidic flavour. Crushed tomatoes are best for this recipe or chopped tomatoes in thick tomato juice such as Cirio Polpa.
  • Chicken stock – you can use chicken or vegetable stock but make sure to buy low sodium so you can control the amount of salt you add.
  • Wine – You can use a dry red or white wine to make this recipe. If you don’t want to cook with wine then you can replace it with extra stock.
  • Storage – leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days and can be reheated. You can also freeze leftovers, thaw completely then reheat as needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 761kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 241mg | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 984mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3011IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 3mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We’d love you see what you’re getting up to in the kitchen!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Florence
    August 28, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    Mmm this looks delicious! I can almost smell it! Definitely going to try it with polenta. A big batch of this would be perfect for having the whole family round for Sunday lunch!5 stars

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