Roasted Chicken Cacciatore

I hate chicken cacciatore. It seems like something I should enjoy, since I'm a fan of its principal ingredients: chicken, peppers, and tomatoes. And I love long, slow cooked Sunday dinners.

But I hate it. Something about the braising chicken over the stove, the thick sauce, the muted way the peppers taste when smothered and simmered- it disgusts me I’ve tried lots of recipes- Mario, Marcella, my own made up concoctions- and nothing’s appealed to me.

Until now. Last month’s Food and Wine featured recipes from Giada’s new Vegas restaurant, including her roasted version of chicken cacciatore. The photo looked perfect- caramelized, un-saucey chicken, surrounded by bursting cherry tomatoes, softened peppers, and wonderfully browned fennel.  Certainly not traditional, but worth a try.

This was the version I’ve been looking for. The chicken is rubbed with a red wine, butter, and herb blend, and roasted on a bed of the traditional cacciatore vegetables, with just a bit of broth, which creates a light sauce. The chicken was flavorful and delicious, and the apartment smelled like an Italian feast day from the peppers and onions (not usually a bonus, but welcome on a Sunday!). It was even better the next day cold in sandwiches, topped with leftover peppers.

This is definitely a keeper.

Chicken Cacciatore with Red Wine Butter, adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
Note: Giada’s recipe calls for a whole chicken, I adapted the version below for a chicken cut into 8 pieces, since that’s what I had in my freezer. Click the link above for her original version.\\
Serves 4

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 bell peppers, thickly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 small bulb fennel, sliced through the core
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large shallot, sliced
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp tomato paste
8 springs fresh thyme
1 tsp oregano
½ cup broth
½ cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and chopped
Fresh basil and parsley, for garnish
Salt, pepper, olive oil

Up to one day in advance, arrange chicken pieces in a baking dish and sprinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper. Remove thyme leaves from branches and stuff under the skin. Cover, and refrigerate.

In a saucepan, boil 1 cup of red wine until reduced to two tablespoons. Combine with tomato paste and butter, and let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 425.

While oven preheats, rub red wine/tomato/butter mixture on chicken and under skin. Let sit at room temp for a half hour.

Just before roasting, add peppers, fennel, garlic, shallot, oregano, and tomatoes to the pan. Pour in ½ cup broth and drizzle entire baking dish with some olive oil.

Roast for one hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thigh and thickest part of breast registers 165.

 Garnish with basil, parsley, and olives. Serve and enjoy!

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