Chicken Cacciatore

This morning I got the girls dressed and out the door by 7:30 to head to the dentist for their checkups.  As anyone with little girls knows, getting them dressed, fed and packed for school is an event.  Doing it by 7:30 when they are used to being out the door at 8:30 is a slight miracle.  If you have girls you can probably relate to the dramatics of getting dressed in the morning.  I could write a whole other post just on that subject.

We made it out the door, coffee mug and backpacks in hand and jumped in the van.  We drove through town, passing by the big kids waiting at their bus stops and runners getting their morning jogs in.  When we got to the dentist at about 7:41 we gave the receptionist our name and she paused.  Usually, this receptionist knows who you are you as are walking in the door, so this wasn’t good.  She asked for our names again and when I told her she looked worried.  “I don’t see them in here for today” she said.  Oh no……

So tomorrow morning we will be performing another slight miracle and we will get back to that dentist office by 7:40 just in time for our appointment…..that was always on Tuesday.  Sigh.

This cacciatore is really delicious and I like to make this in my dutch oven.  I cook it down and let it simmer for a while because the flavor really develops and it starts to taste like something you would get at a good Italian restaurant. However, if you would like to make this on a weeknight, the crockpot would work well for this as well.

In the picture I served this over papardelle pasta which is basically a wide fettuccine noodle.  The second night I served it over some Barilla Plus farfalle and liked it better that way.  When I plate my pasta I like to drizzle a little bit of EVOO and toss.  If I want some spice (which I usually do) I will throw some crushed red pepper flakes in with it too.  Adding this directly to the noodles adds more flavor because every noodle gets coated in the oil.  You can also serve this over white or brown rice for a different twist.

It’s quite healthy, too.  This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken and the rest of the recipe is pretty much tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Throw some red wine, basil, garlic and olive oil in and you have yourself a great, healthy meal! One suggestion for keeping Italian meals light is to skip the bread if you are serving this over pasta or rice. I love bread, too, but seriously people, that is two portions of carbs in one meal. Plus, we all know you won’t just have one piece of bread.  Instead, have a nice salad.  Don’t be afraid to use some of the EVOO even if you you are trying to keep this healthy.  If you totally avoid the oil in this dish, the flavor won’t completely come together and your body does need some fat to help digest all of this healthy food.  So don’t go without, but just watch your portions.

Cacciatore recipes that I have seen typically call for white wine.  I happened to only have a bottle of red so that is what I used.  You can really use either and the taste will be fantastic.


Chicken Cacciatore
Recipe type: Main
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 28 oz can plum tomatoes (get the best quality you can)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2-3 red, yellow or orange peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet onion sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil - cut in a chiffonade
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in the frying pan on both sides. Remove from pan.
  2. Add onions and peppers to the dutch oven and cook until the onions start to turn translucent. Scrape up bits of the browned chicken as the onions and peppers cook. Add garlic and wine. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the wine is reduced by about half.
  3. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and italian seasoning along with two tablespoons of additional olive oil and a few dashes of salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer the chicken on the stovetop for about and hour and a half stirring every 20 minutes scraping down the sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes as you are cooking so you are left with smaller chunks.
  5. During the last half hour add the basil and stir to combine.
  6. When the chicken is done cooking shred with two forks until you get lots of big chunks of chicken. Add a little more salt and pepper to taste. If you want to make this sauce a little bit velvety you could add in 2-3 tablespoons of butter at this point.
  7. Serve over pasta that has been tossed with EVOO and crushed red pepper flakes (if desired.) Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Herb Crusted Pork Roast

We had this herb crusted pork loin roast two Sundays ago with the Creamed Spinach from yesterday. It was a good meal. This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated and although it isn’t extremely difficult, it does require a little time. This is definitely a Sunday pork roast.

I was happy to see that my Harris Teeter had some Niman Ranch pork available. I am not an expert in agriculture or organics, but I do like knowing that their pork is humanely raised and that they use sustainable farming practices. What I can also tell you is that their pork is wonderful and definitely worth the extra money. You brine the pork in this recipe which gives it a lot of its flavor and makes it incredibly tender, but still, you could tell this pork was of a really good quality. I haven’t looked lately, but I imagine that they have Niman Ranch products at Whole Foods. If not, their pork is most likely the same quality as they tend to have similar standards for their meats.

So besides brining (which was extremely simple – don’t be scared,) you will make a fresh breadcrumb crust for this pork. You can see it in the picture and although it fell off a little bit when we sliced it up, this tasted wonderful with the juicy pork. You will also make an herb mixture to rub in the center of the pork and this gives the dish sooo much fresh flavor. It really was wonderful. I was a little bit worried that this might ooze out of the pork, but it really stayed in very nicely and there was plenty to give it a good slathering.

This also made for great leftovers. I don’t always love pork as leftovers, but this was an exception. The crust actually stayed relatively crunchy and the herb mixture just got more flavorful. If you are looking for a new way to roast your pork, I definitely urge you to try this out. I would make it again in a heartbeat – especially if we were entertaining and I wanted to make something special to impress.


Herb Crusted Pork Roast
This is an impressive dish for a Sunday night dinner!
Recipe type: Main
  • 3 pound boneless center-cut pork loin roast
  • Kosher Salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs (I used a mixture of whole wheat and white bread)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup packed fresh parsley or basil leaves, minced (I used a little bit of each)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  1. Lightly score fat cap on pork, making ¼-inch crosshatch pattern. Cut pocket in roast about ¾ inch from the edge. Dissolve ½ cup salt and ¼ cup sugar in 2 quarts water in large container; submerge roast, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Rinse roast really well under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  2. Meanwhile, put rack in the lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place bread crumbs in a medium bowl and add 2 tablespoons Parmesan, shallot, 1 tablespoon oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Using fork, toss mixture until crumbs are evenly coated with oil.
  3. Add parsley, thyme, rosemary, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan, 3 tablespoons oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper to food processor workbowl and process until smooth, about twelve 1-second pulses. Transfer herb paste to small bowl.
  4. Spread ¼ cup herb paste inside roast and tie. Season roast with pepper.
  5. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add roast, fat side down, and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes, lowering heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  6. Snip and remove twine from roast and then spread remaining herb paste over roast and top with bread crumb mixture. Transfer baking sheet with roast to oven and cook until thickest part of roast registers 145 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 50 to 75 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Internal temperature should rise to 150 degrees.
  7. Transfer roast to carving board carefully. Cut roast into ½-inch slices and serve immediately.