Mama’s Chicken Cacciatore

Alan used to say he may be Scottish but he has an Italian stomach! Chicken cacciatore is a staple for all of us who love Italian pastas with red sauces. It’s simple to make and lasts well if you have any leftover for another meal.

Mama’s Chicken Cacciatore
(Serves 6-8)

In a large frying pan, brown one boneless chicken thigh per person in hot olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. (You can also use grilled chicken, which tastes marvelous, or leftover baked chicken, boned and cut into bite-sized pieces.)

Add one at a time while frying and cook until tender:
1 large onion, diced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, diced (optional; actually most everything is optional of the veggies, although cacciatore is traditionally made with onions, garlic, and tomatoes)

1 cup diced black olives
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine or pressed
1 cup (or up to one jar, depending on how thick you like your sauce) spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed basil (or all the fresh you like if you like it!)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (your favorite works fine; I used Lawry’s)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

This particular time, I also added:
2 zucchinis, sliced
2 summer squash, sliced (mostly because I had them and wanted to use them, although they will make your sauce more liquid, and they definitely get mushy if you cook them too long, so just let them get tender [about 10-15 minutes], don’t simmer them for hours.)

Various types of pasta

While the sauce is simmering, make your pasta. I happened to have bits and pieces from several types, leftover from summer company, so I threw them all in together, although I wasn’t sure how it would work out. It turned out fine, since the types were all approximately as thick and required similar boiling times. If they require slightly different boiling times, go with the shortest time.)

Cooked, mixed pastas

I tend to use less water so that it is all absorbed and I don’t pour off any nutrients, so either follow the directions on the side of the package or reduce the water to about 1/2. However, if you reduce the water, you have to stir the pasta more often and watch it carefully, adding more water if needed.

At any rate, after you have boiled about 16 oz. pasta until it’s al denta (“to the tooth,” meaning just barely done and you can still feel a little bite to it [aka don’t even think about letting it get mushy!]), drain off any excess water and then add:
8 oz. butter
1/2 cup parmesean cheese
Salt to taste (should have been added to boiling water at the beginning, but if you need more, add it)

Chicken Cacciatore with Garlic Bread and Sides

Serve it immediately, hopefully at least with some garlic bread (bread, butter, garlic salt, and chives warmed or toasted in the oven or under the broiler) to soak up the liquid (and there will be liquid with this recipe). I served it with grape juice, a caprese salad, and a fresh citrus salad, but whatever you have on hand would doubtless be delicious! If you like it, chances are your friends and family will too!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).

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