Cacciatore is an Italian dish of braised chicken with tomatoes, mushroom, onion and is seasoned with some authentic herbs like thyme, parsley and oregano. When cooked in olive oil it brings out the best taste. The dish is a meal prepared in hunter-style. It can be a stew, salami or a sauce. Some popular readymade Cacciatore sausages are available in the market which are perfectly spiced and seasoned. The Cacciatore sausage is small sized snack which remains good for a couple of weeks. The combination of Cacciatore and wine is much preferred. It is often served with crisp breast, rice or pasta. There are numerous variations of the delicacy which vary according to the availability of the regional ingredients.


Origin of Cacciatore Recipes

The word Cacciatore is derived from an Italian word that means hunter or huntsman. Traditionally it was prepared by the hunters who were out on their hunting expedition in iron pots on charcoal. The traditional recipe was made without tomatoes which forms an indispensable part of the modern culinary world. The tomato version is primarily linked to south Italy.


Ingredients and Popular Methods of Preparing Cacciatore

The prime ingredients of the Cacciatore recipes are chicken, onion, tomatoes, and mushroom, seasoned with thyme, parsley, pepper, oregano, basil leaves and wine. These ingredients are used differently to make some fine recipes of stew, salami and sauce.

  • Chicken Cacciatore – This is the most common variety of Cacciatore. The chicken is marinated with salt and pepper and coated with flour. It is then fried in olive oil.  The proper flouring and frying on both side of the chicken is necessary. Onion, mushroom, garlic and bell pepper are sautéed. Mushrooms should be cooked with great care otherwise it tends to lose its texture and taste. The cooked vegetables are then seasoned with salt, pepper, basil leaves and oregano. Then wine, preferably red wine and chopped tomato with juice is added which is allowed to cook. Finally, the fried chicken chunks are added in the sauce which is further cooked for a few minutes. It is advisable to cook cacciatore for a lesser duration as over cooking may result in piling of the chicken. Addition of red wine brings out a typical flavor of the delicacy.
  • Sausage Cacciatore – This type of cacciatore recipes include preparation of filling with minced pork and beef to be added to the meat and seasoned with the basic herbs. These are stuffed in hog casings and baked in oven.
  • Cacciatore sauce – For this type of cacciatore, the chopped carrots, celery and onion are sautéed with little water. Diced tomatoes along with its juice, chicken, garlic powder and spices are added and cooked for several hours. Lastly, zucchini and mushroom are added and the sauce is allowed to thicken.


Variations in Cacciatore Dishes

There are countless variations of the cacciatore recipes. The ingredients may differ from region to region. Cacciatore is often cooked served with wine. The south Italians love it with red wine and the north Italians with white wine. Instead of the traditional olive oil, any other edible oil may be used to cook the chicken and the vegetables. The choices of herbs used for seasoning are also diversified and varied combinations may be included in the preparation of cacciatore.


Serving Cacciatore

Cacciatore may be served alone or as an accompaniment to French bread, rice or pasta. It may also be used as topping spaghetti and pizza. Traditionally cacciatores were served with steamed vegetables, crispy loaf and white wine, a practice which is still followed. The use of dark meat in the Cacciatore recipes makes it an important entrée in large parties. Cacciatore sausage is a pocket sized snack that is accompanied usually for picnic. These are often taken by those who might be hunting or travelling for several days in areas where finding food may be difficult. The homemade cacciatore sauce recipe or the commercial brands are very popular in the Italian cuisine. These may be poured over chicken or other meat to prepare delicious meal. Cacciatore sausage is often served in hot sandwich and Italian or pita bread.


Some Health Facts Related to Cacciatore Recipes

Cacciatore is a high caloric food. The inclusion of tomatoes, chicken, flour and olive oil provides the essential amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat. The cacciatore recipes can be also be modified with a different version of chicken, thus resulting in the varying calorie content. The chicken thighs and breast are the best source of protein. The dish is preferred to be made with dark meat of the chicken which is fattier. Cacciatore is a good source of fiber too. The salami contains nitrate or nitrites that not only gives color to it but also restrains the growth of deadly organisms.