Culinary College Memories - Chicken

Chicken Cacciatori

When I went to my first class and began the journey through culinary college, I was so amazed at the Chef instructor and his skills that I was slackjawed. I stayed that way for a year. There is nothing that will ever compare to learning from a professional Chef. If I had the funds I would go back and take the course all over again more than once until I understood more of the skills. I am a firm believer and student of "repetition makes an expert," ten thousand repetitions to be exact.

I am older and retired and I went to back school to help me a better cook for my family. I did not want a career because, for me, those days are over, and I also do not want to displace a young person's income just to go back to work to learn more on a subject. That's just me.

In our course, the first section was on chicken. Chicken everything. One of the meals we made that blew me away was Chicken Cacciatori. It was so good I stopped dead in mid chew and I am sure my eyes were swirling in circles. We also learned so many other meals. Below I will write out the recipe we used. Enjoy. Here is a photo of one student's meal on fresh pasta:


Chicken with the bones in and skin on - we cut up a whole chicken removing the back- bone and cutting the breast into 4 pieces and removing the wings for something else, in school we left the leg whole the legs whole, but I would cut it into drum- stick and thigh for home cooking. I think you could make several meals from one chicken using this method. It depends on how many people you plan on serving. I think you can size this meal to any chicken meat you have, but I suggest you make sure some pieces have the skin and bones. You could use all bone in skin on thighs ( cheaper too ).

Green peppers, Onions - I used red peppers in class as well as green peppers - how many? I used maybe one of each and one whole onion cut up. Cut up chunky, it's a rustic dish. I used one roasted frozen red pepper from summer.

Garlic - I used one whole garlic clove crushed and left whole

Tomato - We used in school fresh tomatoes and some tomato sauce. At home, I used a can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes and some frozen garden tomatoes. The tomatoes are meant to cover the chicken and peppers in the pot so judge accordingly.

Red pepper flakes - I used a small pinch in the meal I made at home, delicious little zing. We did not use it in school.

Flour to dredge the chicken - add salt and pepper to the flour not onto the chicken - this dredge will help thicken the sauce. If you want it thicker, in the end, you'll have to make a roux and add it. I liked the silky sauce I got just from the dredge.

Oil for frying the chicken salt and pepper to taste at the end.


Get a good oven proof pot. You will make the whole meal in this pot. Heat up the pot first, remove from heat add some oil, just enough to brown the chicken on all sides. Put the pot back on the heat.

Dredge the chicken in flour, shake off excess. Place skin side down in oil and brown each piece both sides.Remove from the pot as they brown and keep aside. When done, there should be some nice brown oil, filled with flavor in the bottom. Don't burn it. 

Place the green peppers and red peppers ( or all green peppers ), garlic clove if you like and onions in the pot. Sweat them down and let them absorb the brown bits on the bottom. Add back the chicken pieces on top of the peppers and onions. Now there is a layer happening, the peppers protect the chicken from the bottom.

Add all the tomatoes and juice into the pot over and around the chicken. Make sure it covers it, the juice will evaporate in the oven, so you do need it to be covered. Bring this mixture to a boil on the stove. After it boils place the pot - uncovered - into the oven. I had the oven at 325. 

Leave it bubble and cook till the chicken is done. I can't remember how long that was maybe 40 minutes. Serve over fresh pasta, or with a fresh crusty loaf of bread.

I thought to myself in class that I'd like to add olives next time, I think that would be delicious. But I have to try it first before I recommend it.


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