Umbrian chicken cacciatore gets it’s great flavor from herbs and olives. It’s easy to make in just one skillet!
Umbrian Chicken Cacciatore: A Change Of Pace
The standard chicken cacciatore we are all used to eating comes from the southern part of Italy.
But here we head north and savor the flavors of Umbria which is in the central part of the country. And Umbria’s version of this classic dish is quite different from what we are all used to eating.
This recipe tastes like it came from an upscale restaurant, but it’s pretty quick and easy too!
No Tomatoes And No Cheese
This delicious chicken doesn’t rely on tomatoes nor gobs of mozzarella cheese for it’s flavor. Simply put, it has neither of those ingredients.
You’ll be surprised to know that this dish gets it’s great flavor from the brined olives that’s in it! Of course the rosemary and sage add to the flavor as does the highly flavorful wine sauce it’s cooked in.
All the lovely herbs and aromatics infuse into the chicken while it braises. This will really spark your taste buds!
Use Fresh Herbs And Fancy Olives
OK, you all know that I’m a major advocate of using what you have in your pantry to prepare great meals, but this time I’m deviating from this mindset a tiny bit.
Since the flavor of the braising liquid is so important for the subtle taste it imparts to the chicken, it’s important to use fresh herbs in this. The ones that are dehydrated and sold in the jar won’t work well here because when they are dehydrated, they intensify in flavor. Especially the varieties used here; rosemary and sage. Fresh herbs produce a lighter and more lilting flavor and that’s what you want here, so bite the bullet and buy fresh. Remember, you can always air dry what’s left so you won’t be at any loss.
The olives you use are extremely important for the flavor. I used Kalamata and Castelvetrano olives–with the pit. Funny enough the flavor does come from the pit so it’s important. Using cocktail, Spanish olives or black olives won’t give this dish any oomph. Again, bite the bullet and buy the varieties I mentioned.
I’m as thrifty as the next guy, but it’s important to have the right ingredients and not to skimp. Trust me, you won’t be sorry!
A Family Pleaser
This is a meal even the kiddos will love. I’ve even heard that small children really liked it made as-is. One thing is that the juice is a bit on the tart side, so before serving, if you find it’s a bit too tart for you, then a tablespoon or two of honey can be added.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2-3 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ½ cup whole Kalamata olives
- ½ cup whole Castelvetrano olives
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 small handful (about ¼ cup)l sage leaves
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add chicken pieces and sear over medium heat until well browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and drain off the excess fat (if any) from the bottom of the pan.
- Turn heat to low, add remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add onions and stir frequently until they just begin to get brown around the edges. Add minced garlic, capers, olives, rosemary sprig and sage leaves. Season with just a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.
- After a couple of minutes, when everything smells fragrant, add wine, lemon zest, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Make sure to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and simmer very slowly until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- Discard rosemary sprig.
*Adapted from NYT Yum