Chicken Cacciatore with Easy Creamy Polenta #SundaySupper

by Anne Papina on November 4, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore with Easy Creamy Polenta

This is one of those recipes that’s a cinch to throw together, yet admittedly, I don’t make this as often as I should. Chicken Cacciatore’s rich aroma and flavors are borne in its simplicity. Some may remember Pollo alla Cacciatora as a relic from the 1950s’ Italian-American food scene–just add drippy candles and a bottle of chianti wrapped in a straw basket, and you’re all set. But it’s still a staple in Italian homes and probably considered a timeless classic.

This week for #SundaySupper we’re featuring dishes that keep you warm, and to me, nothing fits the bill better than Chicken Cacciatore. While the ingredients vary from region to region, our Ligurian family braises the chicken in a blend of tomatoes, white wine, a little fresh rosemary, and adds pitted black olives at the end. I was hoping that my trusty Oxford Companion to Food would have some details about the history of this dish, but alas, no such luck. The interwebs offers little except to point out that “cacciatore” is Italian for “hunter,” and it may have at one time been a dish made on the trail by hunters. That would have been with rabbit and no tomatoes. Some say it’s really “alla cacciatora” meaning “hunter’s wife’s” stew, perhaps prepared to feed hungry men on their return from the hunt. There’s even some suggestion that it’s related to the French dish “coq au vin” — but regardless of its origins, it’s a dish worthy of adding to your regular dinner rotation.

In our family, we serve it over a warm bed of creamy polenta, so as a bonus, I’m including that recipe here as well. It’s so easy, it hardly seems to be a recipe at all–just a few ingredients stirred into a dish, then baked until golden and bubbly. To Italians here in Northern California, Teleme cheese is the proper cheese to blend in–this is a semi-soft cheese native to this area, created by Serafino Iacono in Tomales Bay. It’s mild and buttery in flavor and is hard to resist on its own.  There are a number of suitable substitutes, but it’s most similar to brie, maybe not as heavy. I think you’ll find it’s a fine side to serve with many other stew type recipes, and this baked version means you won’t be spending hours stirring over a hot stove.

Shall we begin?

cacciatore ingredients

First, let’s start organizing the cacciatore ingredients.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and garlic, then sauté in a large pan with the olive oil.

chicken in pan

Salt and pepper the chicken, and once the onions are translucent, add the chicken to the pan and brown for about 4 minutes on each side. Don’t squish it all together like I did.

chicken cacciatore
Add the remaining ingredients (except for the olives), give it a stir, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

polenta ingredients

While the chicken is simmering, gather up the polenta ingredients.

polenta

Add all the ingredients (except the cheese) to an oven-proof dish, give it a good stir, put a lid on it, and bake for 45 minutes.

creamy polenta

Cut up the cheese into cubes, then at the 45 minute mark, remove the polenta from the oven, stir in the cheese until melted–then put back in the oven uncovered for another 15 minutes.

chicken cacciatore

Meanwhile, stir the olives into the cacciatore, and let simmer for a few more minutes until the olives are heated through.

Easy Creamy Polenta

This polenta is great when topped with sausage, stews, and especially good with chicken cacciatore.

Easy Creamy Polenta

So serve yourself a generous helping.

Chicken Cacciatore with Easy Creamy Polenta

Then top with an equally generous portion of chicken cacciatore. Be sure to get some of that juice in there too–that’s the best part. You may need a crusty loaf of bread to help you sop that up!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter's Style Stew)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This aromatic chicken dish, braised in white wine, tomatoes and a little rosemary, is easy to prepare and is perfect when nestled on a bed of creamy polenta.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 lbs chicken pieces
  • ¾ cup white wine (I use Rossi Chablis)
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 28-oz. can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, chopped, with juice reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 15-oz can pitted black olives, drained
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until onions are translucent.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken. Pushing the onions to the sides, add the chicken and brown for about 4 minutes on each side.
  3. To the chicken, add the wine, broth, and tomatoes with the reserved juice along with the bay leaf, rosemary, and parsley (reserving 1 tbsp. or so for garnish), stir.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove cover, stir in olives, and simmer uncovered for a few additional minutes, until the olives are heated through.
  6. Garnish with reserved parsley, and serve over easy creamy polenta.

 
5.0 from 2 reviews
Easy Creamy Polenta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This easy creamy polenta is a snap to make, and the buttery Teleme cheese inside makes it irresistible.
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ lb Teleme cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large, covered baking dish, mix together broth, polenta, and salt. Cover, and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. After 45 minutes, remove polenta from the oven.
  4. Cut cheese into cubes and stir into polenta until completely melted.
  5. Return polenta to oven for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered, until slightly browned and bubbly.

 

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