Today we fancied Italian. The problem with fancying Italian, however, is that it always tends to be pizza or pasta. Then, with pizza is a take-out and if pasta it’s always a carbonara or a bolognese. But, let’s be honest. We’re all better than that, right? We can be a little more creative. A little more adventurous…
With that in mind, and as both Jen and I were out most of the day, I thought about a slow-cooked casserole. Then I remembered a dish I hadn’t had for a long time. A traditional and classic Italian chicken cacciatore. But with a twist…
This chicken casserole is very similar to the French Hunter’s casserole or, more commonly, chicken chasseur. The Italian version tends to have some added Italian elements like bell peppers and olives and, surprisingly, doesn’t always have the wine added. You can read a little more about the history of Hunter Chicken here ▶.
As with all recipes, however, they are open to interpretation. For me, I didn’t want the traditional bell pepper flavour added with the tomatoes. Rather, something a little more sweet and zingy. To this end, I substituted the bell peppers with sweet pepper and added some lemon. It worked very well ????.
So let’s give this sweet pepper and lemon chicken cacciatore a go…
1. Gather the ingredients together
Although a one-pot recipe this sweet pepper and lemon chicken cacciatore is pack full of ingredients. The full list and measurements to serve 4 are in the printable recipe below. In short, however, you’ll need chicken, tomatoes, herbs (dried basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme) and vegetables.
As I mentioned above, I’ve created my own variation on this classic recipe by substituting bell peppers with sweet peppers and also adding lemon. For me, this created a sweet and zingier taste. Yum???? .
Just look at that fresh basil eh. The taste of Italy in a photograph.
2. Prepare the ingredients
Most of the preparation is just measuring out the ingredients. However, just a quick mention of the vegetables. This is a rustic farmhouse casserole so no need to be precise. Finely chop the onions and mince the garlic. These need to dissolve and flavour the tomato sauce. Keep the mushrooms, peppers and carrot quite chunky though. These will be in the oven a long time and it is important to have the texture of the vegetables in the finished dish.
Note that the parsley is finely chopped and the tinned tomato have been drained over a sieve beforehand. This is to remove some of the juice otherwise the cacciatore can end a little too watery.
3. A word about the chicken
This recipe is best suited for chicken thighs. They are succulent and less dry than the breast. I highly recommend you also keep the thighs bone in. This adds to the flavour and the rustic farmhouse feel of the dish.
Having said all of that I used a combination of thigh and drumsticks. I know, what a hypocrite! ???? The actual reason for this is my local butcher had a random customer go into the shop 10 minutes before me and buy out all of their chicken thighs! Over 60 of them!! I had to go with legs, therefore, and have them cut in half. In truth, the drumsticks were fine and I’d advise using these if above breast if it is all you can get.
To prepare the chicken just remove the skin and season.
4. Prepare the cacciatore for the oven
First things first, preheat the oven to 160C / 140C Fan.
Although there are many ingredients in this one-pot wonder, preparing it for the oven is as simple as chucking almost all of the ingredients in together and whacking it in the oven.
If you have the time though I recommend sealing the chicken in a frying pan first. But even this isn’t essential.
With the chicken thighs prepared, place them a large casserole dish and add the garlic, onions, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and seasoning and mix it all together…
Finally, squeeze the lemon and remove the pips and then add the remaining lemons and juice to the pot and mix again.
Now put the lid on the pot and pop it in the oven…
5. Cook the chicken cacciatore
I like to slow cook this sweet pepper and lemon chicken cacciatore. With the oven at a low temperature, this dish can be cooked for 5-6 hours. Just keep checking it every hour or so to make sure it is not drying up. If the tomato sauce does start to dry then turn the heat down slightly and add some water or chicken stock and stir gently in.
With 30 minutes to go before the cooking is complete add the olives and a sprinkle of the chopped parsley. If you find the sauce a little thin then thicken with a mixture of cornflour and water. Personally, this was not needed but worth using if you like a thick sauce.
Once cooked, season to taste and add some fresh basil…
And that’s all there is to it my crazy cacciatore connoisseurs. This hunter’s casserole is has a rich Italian tomato and herb sauce with the freshness of lemon. Serve it with pasta, rice or dip in crusty bread. Whatever you choose you’ll be amazed by the taste. A wonderful one pot meal for the whole family. Yum!
I hope you enjoyed this sweet pepper and lemon chicken cacciatore recipe. Jen and I certainly did. We had it with a lovely Italian Borolo. We spoilt ourselves, to be honest. Sometimes you gotta though, right? If you want to be kept up to date with The Yum Yum Club’s new recipes as they are released just subscribe to the newsletter at the top of the page, or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest by clicking the link.
As always, many thanks for reading and until next time… Steve.
6. Nutritional values
7. Printable recipe
Sweet pepper & lemon chicken cacciatore. A take on the traditional Italian Hunter's Recipe with chicken thighs cooked in classic tomato and herb sauce. Yum! | theyumyumclub.com
- 6 chicken thighs
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 large sweet pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup tomato puree Metric 120 grams
- 1.25 cups chopped, tinned tomato, drained Metric 120 grams
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup Parmesan optional
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cornflour optional
- 3 tbsp kalamata olives
- 1 bunch fresh basil optional
Gather all of the ingredients together.
Prepare those ingredients that need to be prepared...mince the garlic, finely chop the parsley and onion, and slice the carrot, mushrooms and sweet pepper. Also, drain the tinned chopped tomato.
Finally, season the chicken.
Seal the chicken in a small frying pan and then transfer to a large casserole dish.
Turn the oven on to heat up to 160C / 140C Fan.
Now, add the garlic, onion, mushrooms, peppers and carrots. Also the lemon, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Finally, the dried herbs and some seasoning. Stir this all together.
Place the lid on the casserole dish and put the pot into the preheated oven. Let cook for 5 hours or so on this low heat checking every hour or so to make sure the casserole has not dried up. If it starts to dry then turn the heat down and add water or chicken stock.
30 minutes before the cooking is completed add the olives and some chopped parsley. Also, thicken with the cornflour and water mix, if needed, and season to taste.
Once cooked add some fresh basil.
Sprinkle of Parmesan if you like and serve on its own or with pasta, bread or, as I did, cauliflower rice. Very tasty and very yummy!