The Italian classic, chicken cacciatore (“hunter’s chicken”) is a deeply aromatic dish of chicken gently stewed in tomato sauce with lots of different vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, onions, celery, carrots) and aromatic Mediterranean herbs & spices. Packed with nutrients and flavor, this simple dish satisfies every time.
Because Mediterranean recipes are often quite eclectic (back in the olden days, home cooks would add whatever was available at the time of cooking), I’ve taken the non-traditional step of adding smoked sausage to this stew to give it an even deeper, more comforting taste. You can use fresh or smoked pork, chicken or turkey sausage; the latter two provide more protein than the former. Using 2-3 oz chopped pancetta or bacon (instead of sausage) works well, too.
Containing only 9 g net carb per serving, this stew is suitable for anyone eating a very-low-carb/keto diet (keto eaters: drizzle an extra tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil over your plate for added fat and deliciousness). Athletes or otherwise healthy folks with normal glucose levels can increase the dish’s carb content by serving it over pasta or polenta. I personally favor cauliflower mash (pictured), roasted cauliflower or green beans — not because I dislike carbs, but because I like micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) and fiber even more — and cauliflower and green beans will always top pasta or polenta in the nutrient-density league tables.
Because of its multi-stage preparation this dish requires a little more hands-on time than many of my other recipes, but it’s all very simple chopping & sautéing, which can be quite a meditative way to spend time on a weekend. And since you’re investing the time, why not double it and freeze a batch for later? A homemade ready-meal!
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 2 pounds chicken thigh skinless, boneless
- 8 oz Italian sausage sweet or spicy, chicken or pork (chicken contains more protein)
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 medium carrots diced (not necessary to peel unless they're old and wrinkly)
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 bell pepper, yellow seeds & stem removed, cut into ½-inch dice
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup Noilly Prat (a herbaceous southern French vermouth); alternatively, white wine or chicken broth with a squeeze of lemon juice
- 15 oz tomatoes diced, canned or fresh
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup olives black or green (or a mix of both), pitted; halved lengthwise
- 2 cups chicken bone broth
- ½ cup fresh parsley coarsely chopped, for garnish
- Parmesan cheese grated, for serving
- Season chicken generously with some of the salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, saute chicken on both sides until golden (3-4 minutes on each side), transfer to a plate and set aside.
- In the oil remaining in the pot, fry the chicken sausage over medium-high heat until browned all around (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté a couple of minutes. Then add carrots, celery, onion, pepper and garlic, and cook until they begin to wilt or start to soften, 7-10 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook stirring for 1 min. Add Noilly Prat/wine/broth (whichever using) to deglaze pan and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the tomatoes and broth. Stir in Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and olives and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Add chicken and sausage to the pot, gently submerging them in the sauce with the help of a cooking spoon. Bring to a bubble, then lower heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is tender, and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F, about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout the cooking process.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper as desired. Stir in the parsley, and serve; scatter each plate with grated Parmesan.
- Delicious low-carb accompaniments can include cauliflower mash or green beans; more traditional, higher-carb sides include polenta, pasta or a slice of lightly toasted sourdough bread.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days (indeed, this gets better after a day or two).