When I was growing up, my family’s version of Italian food typically involved spaghetti sauce from a jar or canned ravioli—you know the ones. However, we did get a wee bit more authentic when it came to a few dishes, like Grandpa’s lasagna and chicken cacciatore. I can still envision the pan on the stove, with the chicken legs and thighs swimming in a bubbling tomato sauce. The great thing about this is that you can use any chicken parts, and it’s even great in the slow cooker.
2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs (or any chicken parts of your choosing; see Notes)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking fat
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon dried oregano
One 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
1 cup chicken stock, store-bought or homemade
1. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season with the salt and black pepper.
2. Heat a large Dutch oven or deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil, and when shimmering, add the chicken parts, skin side down.
3. Working in batches if necessary, brown the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes per side and transfer to a plate (you aren’t cooking the chicken all the way through, just browning the exterior).
4. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and bell peppers to the pan and stir to loosen up any of the browned bits. Cook until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Stir in the olives, oregano, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Return the chicken to the pan skin side up, increase the heat to high, and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes.
NOTES: To make this faster, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, and reduce the cooking time in step 5 to only 10 to 15 minutes. If you prefer a thicker sauce, after the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a platter and cover to keep warm, then simmer the sauce over medium-low heat to reduce.