For me, most chicken dishes belong to a comfort food, which can be easily transformed into a holiday dish. Chicken Cacciatore is one of them.
It is also one of our favorite chicken pleasures. Olives and capers add zesty twist to this famous dish. I am preparing Cacciatore in different ways depending on seasonal vegetable varieties. In spring, my favorite additive is a handful of fresh green peas and young crunchy carrots; summertime, fresh tomatoes, zucchini and green beans can be added to the stew; in autumn and winter pumpkin, butternut squash, rutabagas, and sweet potato make Chicken Cacciatore more flavorful and hearty.
This time I added a kabocha squash and parsnip roots to my chicken stew. The kabocha is a wonderful vegetable for cooking – it is a favorite squash in Japanese cuisine, for example, for the preparation of vegetable tempura. During the cooking it holds its shape well and has a taste of both – a sweet potato and a pumpkin. Even the bite of chestnut can be recognized in this squash. The kabocha really made my autumn Cacciatore tastier. The parsnip roots brought an extra flavor to the dish. All combined, another mouthwatering stew was created.
This attractive and satisfying Chicken Cacciatore is great for a weekend family and friends gathering. Just have plenty of good Italian bread or French baguettes handy to serve with this saucy and delicious chicken.
Fall Proof Chicken Cacciatore with Kabocha
- 1 chicken (3-4 lb), cut into pieces (or any part of the chicken, I have 6 thighs on the bone)
- 1/3 – ½ cups flour
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup red or white wine (optional)
- 2 sweet peppers (preferably different colors), cut into large chunks
- 2 celery sticks, cut into large chunks
- 2 parsnip roots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 – 1 ½ lb kabocha, peeled, seeds removed, cut into large chunks
- 2/3 – ¾ c whole small green olives (or mixture green and black), large olives should be chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons capers
- 1 can (15 oz) tomatoes in juice, diced
- ½ can water or more to taste (use can from tomatoes)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried basil
- Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ c chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Cut chicken into 6-8 pieces, wash and dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, and dust with flour. Shake off any excess flour from the chicken.
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the portion of the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and brown both sides in a single layer over medium to high heat. Remove the chicken, set aside on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the chicken if needed.
To the same pot, add the rest of the olive oil and sauté onions over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for 30-45 seconds.
Add wine and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the celery, chicken pieces, pepper chunks, parsnip, kabocha, olives, capers, tomatoes with their juices, water, and spices.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken cooked through. (Cooking time may vary from 20 to 40 minutes). Check for the liquid in the stew: you might need to add some more water to the sauce during cooking.
Stir in the parsley and cook for 1 minute more.
Serve the chicken with vegetables, sauce and good bread (or toasts).
The number of portions depends on the chicken size and the way the chicken is cut (4-6- or 8 pieces).
Cook with pleasure!