Chicken Cacciatore, or “Hunter’s Chicken”, is the sort of hearty stew guaranteed to warm the cockles of a self-builder’s heart on a cold wintery day. It absolutely sounds like you need an Italian Mama’s full kitchen to create it but I can tell you it is possible in a teeny space, hobless & delicious, without the ability to brown, reduce and pan fry.
Most cacciatore recipes leave the skin on, crisping it up in a frying pan then adding the sauce to simmer but this doesn’t work well without a hob – the uncrisped skin goes all limp and flabby in the sauce. Hence, skin off for us lot, at least ’til we’re back cooking with gas 😉
I first tasted Cacciatore an Italian restaurant as a teenager and was blown away by the dish, thick, juicy and bubbling away in piping hot earthenware. I’d never tasted anything like it, as most British cooking back then was tepid and unadventurous. Some chefs add red wine and no stock but it’s a bit too tomato pasta sauce for me, I like white wine, a meaty stock and the addition of some chopped veg to make it more of a one pot meal. Kinda rustic, as though I’ve spent the afternoon hunting a beast for my tea rather than just an errant hammer.
HOBLESS CHICKEN CACCIATORE (Serves 2)
- 6 skinned chicken thighs. Bone in is tastier & more traditional
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano or Italian mixed herbs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 glass of white wine
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- I small carrot, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, halved. Chop them if you like but I like the sweet bite to a half clove.
- I tin of chopped tomatoes, the nicer the better. I like the sweet cherry tomatoes but regular is fine
- 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
- 100ml of good chicken stock (shop bough fresh in a tub or maybe Kallo’s organic cubes)
- Handful of black / green olives
- 1 sprig rosemary
- Olive oil
Use a round ceramic oven proof dish. Mine is 22cm diameter by 10cm high, nice and deep to keep the thighs covered and allow the sauce to bubble round them.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or your equivalent. Heat the oven proof dish in the oven with a dessert spoon of olive oil in it. When sizzling hot, add the carrot, celery and garlic. Stir and pop back into the oven for ten minutes.
Remove from the oven, keeping the oven door closed to retain heat.
Add the chicken thighs & the wine to the hot dish, stirring well to coat with oil and the veg mix. Pop back in the hot oven for ten mins for the thighs to seal & wine to cook off a little.
Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 170.
Add the herbs & rosemary sprig, mix in the tomato paste, then add the tinned tomatoes, chicken stock & olives. Stir.
Cover with foil and cook for an hour. I usually cut open one of the thighs to check they’re cooked all the way through before serving, especially if I forget the timer, get stuck into a job and lose track of time.
It’s easy to serve this with with an easy chicken stock couscous, sprinkled with fresh basil & grated parmesan, but the accompaniments are entirely up to you. Maybe some garlic bread or buttery baked potatoes to take advantage of the already hot oven, or crispy oven roasted broccoli.
Whatever you pick, it’s a winner to cook whilst working, getting your kitchen area nice and warm to eat in. My oven is in the corner of one of the two rooms we live in so meals like this mean I can turn off the gas fire and save fuel whilst tea is bubbling away.
NB For new readers: I live in a kitchenless, hot water-less, hobless house mid-selfbuild & renovations, hence these simple / effective / hearty recipes and food advice for others in the same boat. This isn’t an expert blog for expert foodies with all the gadgets either, so don’t get all prissy if I use cheating additions and never boil / pan fry anything… because I can’t! x