I seriously can’t get enough of tomato season. My favorite tomatoes so far are the dry-farmed tomatoes from Tomatero Organic Farms in Aptos, CA. (They are by far my favorite vendor at the Alemany Farmer’s Market in San Francisco, not just for their amazing tomatoes, but also because of their wonderfully flavorful strawberries and beautiful leafy greens…and their radishes….I could go on and on!) Jules and I bought a bag of tomatoes a week or so ago and we couldn’t eat them fast enough, so I threw a few into the Vitamix and voila, the best fresh tomato purée you’ve ever had in your LIFE.
So what to do with this precious coccineous concoction? (Did I just throw an SAT word in there? Why yes, I did.)
I’ve been on an Italian kick lately and since we happened to have a red bell pepper and some capers in the house, I decided on Chicken Cacciatore. “Cacciatore” is the Italian equivalent of “Jäger” in German (think , Jägerschnitzel!) both meaning “hunter”, and both referring to “hunter-style” preparation, and generally speaking, a more rustic-style dish made with simple ingredients that are easily accessible. (Remind me to bring back the Jägerschnitzel at a later date, I have to bring that dish back once fall hits and we get some really awesome wild mushrooms around here.)
But I digress. Here a pretty simple version of my chicken cacciatore – most people use whole pieces of chicken, but I prefer to have my chicken in small pieces because it cooks faster and is easier to eat. Also, if you don’t like/have capers, you can also put in pitted olives, but in our house, we love capers so we would even add more than the listed amount!
Chicken Cacciatore (Chicken alla Cacciatora)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 c. flour for dusting
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 c tomato puree
1 cup water (or chicken broth)
1 bay leaf
pinch of oregano
1 T capers, drained (you can substitute olives for capers if you prefer)
fresh basil, julienned
Season your cubed chicken breast with salt and pepper, and then dust in flour. In a Dutch oven (or similar pot), brown the chicken in olive oil on medium-high heat and set aside.
In the same pot, saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent. Deglaze the pan with the wine, then lower the heat and let it simmer and reduce a little, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and stir in about half the water. Add the chicken pieces back to the sauce, along with the bay leaf, oregano, and capers (or olives), and season with salt and pepper. Give the entire thing a stir to make sure all of the meat is coated, then turn heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes. About halfway through, check to make sure the sauce isn’t too thick (if it is, just add a little more water), give it another stir, and then cover until time is up. Like any good stew, you can even let this simmer longer (just keep checking the level of liquid in the pot). It will make your entire house smell like an Italian family dinner, trust me. At the last moment, stir in some fresh basil and also save a little to top off when you plate up the dish (see below).
I serve the cacciatore on top of a big pile of spaghetti – but you can eat it by itself (no carbs!), with rice, or on top of your preferred pasta shape.