The nights are getting longer. The mornings are getting colder. We’re nearing the end of October, if you can believe it.
Does anybody else feel like this year has flown by? I do! Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, will be here before you know it. Pretty soon we will all be ringing in the new year. Where has the time gone?
The end of October means the end of my new quest to do all slow cooker recipes to celebrate Crocktober. It’s been a doozy. I’ve had to enlist the help of a friend’s Crockpot just to keep up (thanks, Rashonna!). I’ve made quite a few recipes that I will revisit over time, and many that were mouthwateringly good. This recipe, however, probably takes the cake.
It’s a more American riff on an Italian classic. Don’t go calling Mario Battali on me. As much as I adore Italian food, I’m neither Italian nor an expert on their cuisine. I know what I like and I know how to make certain dishes, but real Italian food can be a slow—very slow—process. I just don’t have that much time on my hands!
The slow cooker works wonderfully to really develop those rich Italian flavors. I may not have 8 hours to watch a pot full of tomatoes simmer down into a spectacularly robust marinara, but I will most definitely throw it all in a slow cooker and wait 8 hours until it’s finished. Chicken cacciatore is one of those Italian babies that needs attention to make it live to its fullest potential. A slow cooker cuts that poking and prodding process in half!
The term “cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian. It’s a meal prepare “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, tomatoes, and whatever meat a hunter brought home for supper. In American households, it’s almost always made with chicken. A typical cacciatore is braised for a decent amount of time to get all those flavors melding together.
I threw everything but the chicken coop into this more stew-like version. Mushrooms, red bell peppers, carrots, kalamata olives, kale—I wanted everything to soak up that delicious tomato-and-chicken sauce that this cacciatore made. It almost tastes like a wonderful ragu.
Pro-tip: sear the chicken thighs before putting them in the slow cooker so you get that nice golden crust. I think searing meat before cooking it low and slow adds an extra depth to the dish.
Chicken Cacciatore Stew
A hearty stew with tomatoes, chicken, kale, mushrooms, carrots, olives and bell peppers.
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 TBS. olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives (whole & pitted)
- 1 bunch kale, roughly torn
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to hot skillet. Sear on both sides, until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Place chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, both cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Stir in kale and olives. Continue cooking on high for another 30 minutes. Serve.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to hot skillet. Sear on both sides, until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Place chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, both cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and thyme.
Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Stir in kale and olives. Continue cooking on high for another 30 minutes. Serve.