Saturday is National Chicken Cacciatore Day. I know most people shy away from this dish because they think it is complex to cook, but you will be rewarded with a wonderful meal if you have the time and energy (it makes a great Sunday dinner).
Cacciatore literally means, "hunter" in Italian and this hunter style dish is hearty especially with our days getting shorter and our nights a little chilly.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (4 pound chicken) cut into pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green pepper, chopped (you can use red or yellow as well)
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup white wine (you could also use a Cabernet, if you like)
2 cups fresh mushrooms, quartered
16 ounces penne pasta, optional
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake the chicken pieces in the flour until coated. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet (make sure skillet has a lid). Fry the chicken in pieces until they are browned on both sides, about 4-6 minutes a side. Remove chicken from skillet (which will NOT be fully cooked at this stage).
Wipe skillet clean and add rest of oil to pan. Cook the onion, garlic and pepper until onion is slightly browned. Return chicken to the skillet and add the tomatoes, oregano and wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.
Add the mushrooms to the chicken mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes more*.
Serve over pasta or rice or enjoy without and have a side salad as a side dish.
* If meat is falling off the bone, I like to remove the bones and shred the meat a bit. It gives the sauce more flavor
* It also pairs nicely over a creamy polenta