You can find at least half a dozen recipes for chicken cacciatora or cacciatore on this blog; it’s truly one of my go-to comfort dishes. Unfortunately, as with most fricassee dishes, the required step of browning the chicken wreaks havoc on the stove top. However, my recent experiments with roasted chicken thighs prepared from one of Sam Sifton’s “You Don’t Need a Recipe” columns on the New York Times “Cooking” website led me to develop a version of cacciatora that eliminates the mess and has plenty of flavor. Moreover, because it doesn’t require separately cooking the vegetables, it takes less time.
Because this attempt was just a tryout, we didn’t take any photos while I was preparing the dish. But it looked so good when I took it out of the oven that I snapped a shot of it and, after tasting it, I decided to make it the subject of today’s post.
Unlike most versions of cacciatore, this one yields chicken with perfectly crispy skin, yet does not sacrifice any flavor. The meat is wonderfully tender and juicy and fully flavored from sauce ingredients that meld while cooking at a rather high temperature. I must admit that I’ll continue to make my more traditional versions of this dish, which may be more saucy and moist, but for those evenings that I’m short on time or just not up for after-dinner kitchen duty, this one is a keeper.
4 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tabelspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ large onion or 1 medium, sliced thick
1 large red bell pepper, sliced thick
1 14½ ounce can Italian finely chopped tomatoes
1½ teaspoons dried oregano, or to taste
1½ tablespoons nonpareil capers, rinsed and drained
4 fresh basil leaves, ripped plus some for sprinkling on the finished dish
- Preheat the oven to 450°F
- Liberally season the trimmed chicken thighs with slat and pepper.
- Oil the bottom of a cast-iron or other heavy bottomed skillet with the olive oil.
- Toss the vegetables in the oil and season with salt and pepper and distribute evenly
- Add the oregano to the tomatoes, stir, and pour over the center of the vegetables. Let the tomatoes remain on top of the vegetables.
- Place the chicken thighs skin side up over the tomatoes, keeping some space between each thigh.
- Place into the oven and cook for 45 to 50 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Remove the chicken and stir the capers and basil into the sauce and vegetables.
- Using pot-holders, pour the vegetables and sauce onto a warmed platter and place the chicken thighs on top. Sprinkle with additional torn basil leaves.
Serves 2 to 4.
Wine Pairing: Chianti, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo