As a butcher’s daughter, I learned early on the definition of phrases like dry-aged beef (hung on a rack to dry for several weeks to concentrate flavor and tenderize the beef) and wet-aged beef (typically aged in a vacuum-sealed bag to retain moisture). Whether wet or dry-aged, my father’s approach to cooking a great steak was to keep it simple; a slight coating of olive oil, salt, pepper, and, if possible, allow most of the high heat to come from a top element like a salamander broiler, which allows the juices to drain down through the beef and not onto the pan. That’s how I was taught, and that’s how I cooked steaks most of my life. But in the last decade, the idea of rubbing steak with coffee and chocolate to match a steak’s rich, beefy flavor has become a popular method. Add to it bold spices like toasted, ground coriander seeds and it becomes anything but “your father’s steak.” Rather than the traditional baked potato accompaniment, a spicy tomato chutney is spooned over the top of the steak making this dish a simple, elegant, and complete main meal – and a real butcher’s daughter delight!
Forgive me, I’ve been holding out on you. I never meant to. How could I not have shared my momma’s recipe for homemade Cheese Ravioli with you sooner?
“Bliss in a Skillet.” That’s what my momma’s Chicken Cacciatore recipe should be named. As a little Italian girl, growing up, I just thought that it was one of those dishes that everyone ate at least once a week – just like we did – with polenta or pasta.
I also assumed that all Chicken Cacciatore pretty much tasted the same.
But many years later, after having tasted Chicken Cacciatore in numerous restaurants, I’m going to finally go on the record and say that Momma’s is the best. You’re going to get to try it for yourself and see if you agree.
Momma’s Cacciatore is simple, inexpensive, uses only one pan, and the flavors are absolutely divine. It’s about as close to a fool-proof dish as you can get with the recipe I’m sharing with you today. Momma’s Chicken Cacciatore was one of the first recipes we included in our first cookbook, “Momma & Me & You,” and through the years, we’ve tweaked it just a bit to make it even better!
Here’s what Momma wrote in our cookbook: “Almost every Italian restaurant has chicken cacciatore on the menu, and there are as many versions of the dish as there are places that serve it. Although it’s a Southern Italian specialty, it has been adopted as a treasure throughout Italy. When I introduced cacciatore on my restaurant menu back in 1957, our customers fell in love with the very first delicate bite! It became one of our most popular signature dishes for the celebrity crowd and locals alike.”
I find that high-quality fresh chicken enhances the taste – and that chicken thighs and legs seem to be the most flavorful (flavor-filled bones make all the difference). Pick up a nice bottle of wine, some good sour dough bread, and enjoy one of my momma’s mainstay Italian meals!