Easy Chicken Cacciatore with Linguine
I've been making various versions of Chicken Cacciatore my whole life, to the point where I rarely consult recipes (which means it's rarely the same twice). Recently I threw this together for a quick midweek dinner, using some cooked chicken I had on hand and it was so good that E, the usual beneficiary of my cooking, insisted that I write it down so I could do it again soon.
Cacciatore means hunter in Italian, and the dish in Italian is pollo alla cacciatora, but I've never found an authoritative explanation for the name. My friend Elise over at Simply Recipes doesn't claim to know either but said she'd heard that "if a hunter came home empty-handed, his wife would kill a chicken for the meal instead" and that's good enough for me. Anyway, like all famous dishes, there are tons of variations. The chicken, of course, and tomatoes, onions, olive oil, garlic and usually some wine seem to be the common elements in most of the recipes, with sweet peppers, mushrooms and olives making frequent appearances.
This version adds herbes de provence, fennel seeds, saffron and black oil-cured Moroccan olives, and as mentioned it uses cooked chicken instead of browning, then braising chicken parts as is the usual procedure.
For those looking to watch their weight or get their blood glucose levels under control this dish, portioned carefully, can easily fit into a day's meal plan since it's only 7 grams of fat, 14 grams of digestible carbs and 6 Weight Watchers points (if made with Dreamfields pasta -- see Note 2 in the recipe below).
Serve it with a grating of Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, a fresh green salad and a hearty Tuscan Sangiovese Chianti.
Easy Chicken Cacciatore with Linguine
- 1 pound tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in crescents
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons herbes de provence (see Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 pieces lemon peel, 1" x 2"
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 8 ounces dry linguine or other pasta shape as desired (see Note 2)
- 1 cup cooked chicken, cut in bite-sized pieces (see Note 3)
- 1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted, chopped
1. Place tomato, onion, olives, fennel seeds, garlic, herbes de provence, olive oil, chicken broth, lemon peel and saffron threads in a sauté pan. Bring to a simmer and cook 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Correct seasoning and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente
3. When the pasta is almost done return the sauce to a simmer, add the chicken and olives and stir to combine.
4. When the pasta is cooked transfer it to the pan of sauce with tongs, allowing a little of the pasta-cooking water to ride along. Raise the heat to high, stir to combine, and cook about 2 minutes, stirring.
Serve immediately, with shredded Parmiggiano Reggiano if desired.
1. Herbes de Provence. This is a mixture of dried herbs that originated in the South of France. One recipe (from About.com ) includes 2 tablespoons each of dried oregano, thyme, savory, and lavender and a teaspoon of dried basil, though the ingredients and proportions vary widely. Commercial mixtures can be found in specialty stores or you can make your own.
2. Pasta. For those who need to limit carbohydrate intake for weight control or for management of blood glucose levels, consider using a pasta with lower digestible carbohydrates such as Dreamfields. It's claimed that even though these pasta products have roughly the same carbohydrate content as conventional pasta, only about 12% of the carbohydrates in these products can be digested and absorbed in the intestines.
(Be aware that the caloric content of pasta with lowered digestible carbohydrates is roughly equivalent to that of conventional pasta, so portion control is still important for weight management.)
3. Cooked chicken. I poach the chicken, though it can be roasted. For the Nutritional Estimate it is assumed that the skin is removed and discarded.