Skillet Chicken Cacciatore


Delicious chicken cacciatore, with chicken falling off the bone in a robust rustic tomato sauce is a staple in our home, as it's simple and inexpensive to make, and always a crowd-pleaser! 


Skillet Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Serves 4          Preheat 350°F 

4 chicken leg quarters
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp Tony's Original Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
3 peeled carrots
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup Red or white wine (or cooking stock)
1 large (28oz) can San Marzano tomatoes, such as Cento brand
3 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
fresh-picked basil for garnish

Optional:

Sliced mushrooms
Mediterranean kalamata olives



written by Tamara Styer

Simple to make, and absolutely delicious, this recipe starts with humble, rustic ingredients and a cast iron skillet. You can use any cut of chicken you like, and any combination of vegetables. We chose to use the classic trifecta of bell peppers, onions and carrots. You could also add in mushrooms or even Mediterranean kalamata olives. The ingredients simmer together in the skillet with wonderful aromatics and seasonings like fresh crushed garlic, dried red pepper flakes and fresh-picked leaves of sweet basil. Canned San Marzano tomatoes are the secret ingredient that sets this recipe apart, combined with red wine and good quality balsamic vinegar for a touch of depth and sweetness.


I love making this recipe in the summer with fresh farmer's market ingredients, or in the winter for a warm and hearty meal. The house is filled with the rich aromas, and your family will think you slaved all day over this meal! It all starts with the chicken. I like using leg quarters, because they are so inexpensive and turn out juicy and flavorful. Season your chicken liberally with salt and pepper. I also like to use Tony's Original Creole Seasoning, as well as some crushed red pepper flakes to add a little heat.


Rub the seasonings onto the meat and prepare a cast iron skillet, heating to medium to medium-high heat, depending on your stove. Drizzle in some olive oil, and when the oil is hot, gently place your chicken skin-side down into the cast iron skillet. Sear the chicken until golden brown, then turn over and sear the other side. You won't have to cook it all the way through yet, as you will be cooking it the rest of the way later. When the skin is crispy and the color is a good caramel color, remove your chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. Do not put chicken pieces on top of one another, as they'll get soggy. The key is to keep the chicken skin as crispy as possible!


Now it's time to cook the vegetables. In the same pan over medium or lower heat, sauté your vegetables of choice until just al dente. You don't want to overcook them, as they will continue cooking in the sauce. You'll then keep the cast iron skillet over medium heat and deglaze the pan with a little red or white wine, about a quarter cup, scraping up the good chicken bits with a wooden utensil. Red wine is my favorite to deglaze with, as it imparts a really robust flavor into the dish. If you prefer not to deglaze with wine, just use a little cooking stock, or leave this step out entirely.

Wait to add your chicken back into the pan until your sauce has come together. 

Turn the heat down to low and add a large can of San Marzano tomatoes to the pan. These are a fancy regional Italian tomato famous for their sweetness and intensity, and the flavor upgrade is undeniable. These canned tomatoes are the secret ingredient to making this dish super delicious! Gently stir the tomatoes in with the sautéed vegetables, creating a lovely, rich red sauce. You can now preheat your oven to 350°F.


Add in a large crushed garlic clove, or two small ones. I like to use my Pampered Chef Garlic Press, because you don't have to peel the cloves! You could alternatively add the cloves thinly sliced or even whole. Add two or three tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar for even more depth of flavor. This golden-red liquid should be gently bubbling and making your mouth water!


Now it's time to add your seared chicken back into the pan. Gently add chicken pieces to the top of the sauce mixture, and do not immerse or your chicken skin will get soggy. Try to keep the liquid underneath or on the sides of the chicken pieces. Once all of your chicken has been placed back into the pan, you can now place some Mediterranean kalamata olives in the sauce if desired. Carefully move the cast iron skillet into the 350°F oven. Bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven, until the sauce is slightly reduced and the chicken is cooked through. I recently got my very first food thermometer, and I love it! If you have one, check your chicken at the thickest part, close to the bone. It should read 165° to 175° for chicken thighs, or 165° for breasts. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Serve your chicken cacciatore with a garnish of fresh-picked basil leaves. Be sure to get some of the delicious sauce on your plate! You can serve this on its own or with noodles, rice or a slice of crusty homemade bread to soak up the rich tomato sauce!


I hope you enjoy this recipe! It's become one of my favorite dishes to make, because it is simple, inexpensive and only takes one pan. My boyfriend even likes it, though he never liked chicken cacciatore before! It's all about keeping that chicken skin nice and crispy!

Buon appetito!


Tamara Styer is the Editor-In-Chief of Branson Foodie Magazine and Deitra Magazine.

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