Boneless, skinless chicken thighs and mushrooms simmered in a rich tomato sauce and served over a bed of egg noodles. An easy weeknight version of the classic Italian dish!
Chicken cacciatore is one of my mom’s best dishes. Growing up, nights when we had got to have it for dinner were a big deal. We were a busy family and her recipe involved digging out the giant electric skillet, cutting up an entire chicken, and waiting for what seemed like hours for that to cook. So between all the soccer games and play rehearsals, etc. of my childhood, we didn’t often have time for cacciatore, but when we did, it was happy times for all!
When I moved away to go to college, I think I tried the original recipe twice before I declared it too much work for one person. It took too long, and it never tasted quite like Mom’s. But a while back, I had a hankering to give this childhood favorite another try. After a little tinkering, not only did I take most of the work out of the recipe, but I think I’ve managed to improve on the original (sorry, Mom!). It’s gone from a weekend meal involving the dismembering of a dead animal to a quick and simple-to-prepare dinner, perfect for busy weeknights.
No longer must you cut up an entire chicken or dig out a giant electric skillet to cook it all in! This version uses boneless skinless chicken thighs, which means no cutting, they all fit in one pan, AND it lightens up the dish considerably. The prep takes all of 15 minutes and once you get the sauce simmering, it’s almost completely hands off until it’s time to eat.
If you’ve never had chicken cacciatore before, you’re in for a treat. The long (but not too long!) low simmer with the white wine and brandy makes the chicken thighs fall-apart tender and gives the entire dish a deep and wonderful richness you wouldn’t expect from something that contains no heavy cream or cheese. Bonus, this is one healthy meal. Serve with a side of steamed broccoli and you have an entire dinner for under 500 calories.
- 4-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs*
- 1/4 cup (35g) flour, mixed with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots OR green onions OR onions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 2 cups (1 14.5 oz can) chicken broth
- 2 cups (8 oz) mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine*
- 2 tablespoons brandy or 1/4 cup Muscatel (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 8-12 oz egg noodles (2oz/person)
- Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, coating completely.
- Heat oil in a large skillet (with a lid) over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the chicken. Brown the first side and flip. After you have flipped the chicken, add the shallots/green onions/onions and garlic to the pan between the thighs and brown, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Once the chicken and garlic are browned, spread a large dollop of tomato paste over each of the thighs, using the entire can. Pour the chicken broth over the top, and add mushrooms, white wine, brandy, bay leaf, salt, thyme, basil, and pepper. When you add the spices, try to sprinkle them as evenly over the whole dish as possible.
- Bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through to make sure all of the mushrooms are cooking in the sauce. The dish is done when chicken is tender and sauce is thickened.
- Boil water for pasta and cook according to instructions on the package. I usually start boiling water once the chicken begins to simmer and dump the pasta in when there are 13 minutes or so left on the timer.
- Divide pasta and cover with chicken and sauce. Enjoy!
*The rule of thumb is usually two thighs per person, but since this is served over noodles, I find one to be plenty, unless you have big eaters.
*Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio & Sauvignon Blanc are all good options
Nutritional Information (4 servings)
Adapted from: Joy of Cooking (affiliate link)
Small-yield Instructions: No cooking or preparation changes needed to cut the recipe in half or quarters. This recipe halves cleanly. You can freeze the extra chicken broth and tomato paste in an ice cube tray to use at a later date.
Make-ahead Instructions: This dish has very little prep, but the mushrooms, onions, and garlic can be cut and stored in an air-tight container up to two days in advance. (Your mushrooms might look a little wilted but they cook down in the sauce, so you won’t be able to tell after cooking.)
Freezer Instructions: The chicken and sauce can be frozen in an air-tight container or ziplock bag for up to four months. I prefer not to freeze pasta when I don’t have to. For this dish, it’s best to just make a new pot of noodles when you are ready to eat them.