It's April here in North Carolina, the Cherry trees are in full blossom, The dog wood trees and Azalea bushes are just beginning to bloom, but it's still cold! We've definitely had some warm, and even hot days, but today it's just 40 degrees. One good thing about the lingering cool weather, it gives me an excuse to continue cooking winter soups and stews, and my all-time favorite stew is Chicken Cacciatore! Translated from Italian cacciatore means "hunter's stew", or "the catch of the day". I can just picture cacciatore stew being slow cooked in an Italian country villa with rabbit and Guinea fowl (like a pheasant).
Back here in the U.S, I went hunting at our local grocery store and stirred-up some chicken breast and Italian sausage, and I didn't even have to kill them! I've also made this recipe with boneless chicken thighs and legs and with pork, it's pretty versatile so you can add whatever type of meat you choose, or no meat at all.
The combination of fennel seed, rosemary and oregano, along with the mushrooms, give this dish a rich savory flavor that is really satisfying, especially on a cold day.
This recipe also adapts well to a slow cooker or crock-pot. Just brown the meat, saute the onions, garlic, celery along with the herbs in a pan, then add everything else and let cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Cacciatore with Chicken and Italian Sausage
1 lb. Italian Sausage (sweet or hot)
1 Lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 medium onion
1 stalk of celery, cut up
4 cloves garlic
1 large bell pepper, cut up to bite sized
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tsp fennel seed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp crushed red pepper(optional)
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
6-8 crimini mushrooms (or white button mushrooms), sliced
Fresh basil for garnish (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese
• Heat a large stock pot to medium high heat with the olive oil
• Place the chicken breast and the Italian Sausage into the pot, cook each for about 1 minute on each side, browning them, working in batches if you need to. Set aside.
• Using the same heated pot, stir in the onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper, let them cook about a minute or so, using a fork to scrape off and stir in the browned pieces on the bottom of the pot
• Mix in the Oregano, basil, fennel seed, rosemary, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
• Next stir in the tomatoes, chicken stock, red wine and mushrooms, mix all together well and bring to a slight boil
• Add the meat and return to boiling, once it boils again reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, loosely covered
• Remove the bayleaf and romsemary sprig. Serve over GF pasta or rice, garnish with fresh basil (optional) and grated parmesan cheese, Mangia!