In its most simple form, chicken cacciatore is essentially a stew made with readily available produce such as tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and chicken. There’s a reason it’s called “hunter’s chicken”. This dish uses simple cooking methods with fresh ingredients to make something satisfying and utterly delicious. To complement this dish, simple roasted garlic infused sweet potato mash has been created to give even more rustic earthiness.
With something so relatively easy that produces such an irresistibly tasty outcome, there’s no excuse to not get into the kitchen and get cooking!
Chicken Cacciatore with Chickpeas and Roasted Sweet Potato Mash
- 6-7 sweet potatoes
- 1 head of garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 whole chicken
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
- 5 small red onions
- 6-7 cloves of garlic
- 5-6 Italian tomatoes
- 1 bell pepper
- 6-7 pickled pepperoncini peppers
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 ½ cups canned chickpeas drained
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2-3 sprigs oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Wash the sweet potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise and place them into a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt over the potatoes. Turn them over so they are skin side up in the dish. Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil and add it to the pan. Put the potatoes in the oven and cook them for 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft to the touch.
With a sharp butcher or chef’s knife cut the chicken into quarters then cut the drumsticks and wings off at the joint to make 8 separate pieces. Sprinkle each side with salt, black pepper, and dried parsley.
Using a clean chef’s knife on a clean cutting board, cut the onions into quarters or eighths and crush the garlic cloves. Dice the tomatoes and slice the bell pepper into 1 ½ inch long pieces. Rinse the chickpeas under cool water and set aside to drain off any excess water.
Heat half of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer into the hot pan, skin side down. Allow the chicken to brown lightly on each side; about 6-7 minutes on each side. Transfer the browned pieces to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces.
In another pan, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and allow them to turn a dark brown around the edges. Add the chopped tomato and bell pepper to the pot. Pour the red wine and balsamic vinegar into the pot and stir. Add the capers and pepperoncini to the pan as well and stir. Transfer the chicken pieces to the pan and add the chickpeas. Lastly, add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and salt to the pot along with just enough water to come up to the chickpeas and place a lid on top.
Bring the chicken to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and shift the lid to allow steam to escape, but still cover the pot. Allow it to cook for approximately 1 hour.
Remove the sweet potatoes and garlic from the oven and allow them to cool down enough to touch. Scrape the flesh out from the skin of the potatoes and place it in a bowl. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves into the bowl, discarding the skins.
Using a fork or potato masher, mash the garlic and potatoes together and stir well. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.
Turn off the heat for the cacciatore and remove the bay leaves and herb stems from the pot before serving.
Pepperoncini peppers are completely optional, but they do add a nice flavor to this dish. If you prefer no added spicy heat, feel free to leave them out. If you want more heat, add another pepper or some chili flakes to this recipe to kick it up to your preferred level!
STEP ONE – PREPARE THE POTATOES
Turn the oven on to 350F and allow it to preheat.
Put the sweet potatoes in the sink and scrub them well under running water to remove any dirt and debris from the skin.
Cut out any blemishes and then cut them down the middle lengthwise before placing them into an oven-safe dish or tray. Lightly coat the outside with olive oil and coarse salt before turning them over so they are skin side up, cut side down.
Wrap the entire head of garlic in aluminum foil, no need to cut or peel it. Add it to a corner of the baking dish with the potatoes.
Bake the potatoes in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when poked with a finger.
STEP TWO – PREPARE THE CHICKEN
Place the chicken on a cutting board and cut it into quarters before separating the drumsticks from the thighs at the joint with a sharp knife.
Do the same with the wings and the breasts to make 8 pieces of chicken.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.
STEP THREE – PREPARE THE VEGETABLES
On a clean cutting board, with a clean knife, trim and peel the onions before slicing them into wedges. With the flat side of the knife, crush the garlic cloves against the cutting board and trim the root end off before peeling and discarding the skins and ends.
Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the stem portion before dicing them. Remove the stems and seeds from the bell peppers before slicing them and then cutting them into 1 ½ inch long pieces.
Remove the stems from the pepperoncinis.
Rinse the chickpeas in the sink using a colander and set them aside to drain.
STEP FOUR – BROWN THE CHICKEN
Pour half of the olive oil into a cast-iron skillet and place it on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, put the chicken into it skin side down and allow it to cook until browned. Turn it over and cook until browned on the other side.
Do this in a single layer so as not to crowd the pan. Work in batches if needed and transfer the chicken to a plate while preparing the rest.
STEP FIVE – BEGIN COOKING THE CACCIATORE
In a large deep pan, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss the onions and garlic cloves into the pan and saute them in the hot pan until they start to turn dark brown and caramelize around the edges.
Next, add in the tomato and bell pepper into the pot before pouring in the balsamic and red wine. Scrape any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add in the capers, pepperoncini, and nestle the chicken pieces down into the mixture. Add the chickpeas, rosemary, them, oregano, bay leaves, and salt before pouring just enough water to cover the chickpeas, but not the chicken. Cover with a lid.
STEP SIX – SIMMER THE CACCIATORE
Once the cacciatore has come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, open the pot just enough to allow steam to escape as it cooks. Let cook about 1 hour, or until the chicken is almost fall off the bone tender.
STEP SEVEN – SCRAPE OUT THE POTATOES
Once the sweet potatoes are done with cooking, take them from the oven and allow them to cool just enough to be able to touch them. With a spoon or fork, scrape the potato from the skin and transfer to a bowl.
Unwrap the garlic and separate the cloves. Using your fingers, pinch the clove from one end, pushing towards the opposite end. The roasted clove will squeeze out easily into the bowl of potatoes.
STEP EIGHT – MAKE THE SWEET POTATO MASH
Mash the potato and roasted garlic together with a potato masher or fork. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed. Cover to keep the potatoes warm and set them aside.
STEP NINE – REMOVE HERBS FROM THE CHICKEN AND SERVE
Once the cacciatore is done, turn off the heat. Remove the herb stems and leaves.
Serve the cacciatore immediately with the mashed sweet potatoes.
Taking seasonal produce into account, this cacciatore can easily be adapted with the use of canned tomatoes and use root vegetables such as carrots or parsnips instead of peppers!
Don’t like sweet potatoes? No problem! Use your favorite variety of white potatoes or even try a purple mash as a colorful substitute.