Jo’s Favorite Chicken Cacciatore

© Joanne Rigutto

 

We have a lot of extra roosters our here on the farm. Some come along with the pullets we’ve ordered, some I hatch on site. The roosters are usually heritage breeds or crosses of those breeds and get quite large, ten pounders are not uncommon. The roosters generally have primarily dark meat, even the breast meat is a bit on the dark side. The meat is also very rich, reminiscent of duck or the dark meat on a turkey. Harold says they’re similar to guinnea fowl (and the birds are not near as loud I’d wager!).

In order to get the birds to maximum size, and also because I want to evaluate them for their potential as breeding stock, I often let them get to a year of age, which can make for a very tough bird. Many times, when I decide to cull roos, I process them as you normally would a broiler, and then use them for making chicken stock, but today I had a hankerin’ for chicken Cacciatore. I perused several different recipes and then came up with something I thought would work with aged roosters.

If you have the opportunity to work with aged roosters, please don’t pass it up, for while they do present their own challenges, if handled right, they can be just as tender as the youngest broiler, and, like beef brisket, they’re well worth the effort.

PS – You can make this with broilers, the meat won’t be as rich, and you won’t want to stew the chicken as long, about 1/2 hour should do it, just untill the thighs are tender.

Enjoy!

 

 

Ingredients –

3 full boneless, skinless breasts, split in two (you should have 4 pieces from each bird)

4 thighs, skinned and deboned, split in two

Trimmings off the carcasses

1 1/2 cups white flour

1T each garlic granules, onion powder/granules, salt, pepper

2T dried Italian herbs (McCormik or Schilling)

1/2 cup olive oil (prefferably oil that sundried tomatoes have been packed in)

2 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced 3/16 inch thick

4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 4 inch pieces and quartered

8 large cloves garlic, pealed and quartered

2 14-16 ounce cans of stewed tomatoes chopped (I like the ones with the Italian seasonings)

2 cups white wine

2 cups chicken broth

 

Method –

  • Combine flour, herbs and seasonings in a large bag or dish with sides.
  • Heat oil in a large electric skillet with high sides 400 degrees.
  • Shake or dredge the chicken, a couple pieces at a time in the seasoned flour. Fry chicken pieces in oil untill browned on all sides. If you don’t have enough room in the pan to do all of them at once, fry them in batches and reserve browned pieces in a large bowl or dish.
  • When all pieces of the chicken are browned, remove from pan and place in large bowl or dish, reduce heat to 300-350 and add garlic, onions and carrots. Sweat the onions untill they are a light caramel color and the carrots are begining to soften.
  • Remove the vegetables from the pan and return the chicken pieces to pan, distributing them evenly. Place the thigh pieces in the center, with the breast pieces around the perimiter. This is to ensure that the tougher thigh pieces will stew better. Place the onions and carrots evenly over the top of the chicken, and the tomatoes with juice over that. Pour over the wine and chicken broth.
  • Cover with lid and stew at 350 for 2 hours, checking ocassionally and adding wine or broth if needed to keep liquid level within 1/2 inch of top of tomatoes.

 

When the thigh pieces are tender, serve with pasta, raviolli or gniocchi and vegetables.

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