No. 282: Chicken Cacciatore

Mr. McC spent the past few days in Las Vegas at the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament. I'm glad he had some time away with friends to decompress and play. Though I can't lie that the pictures by the pool were tough to bear ... sigh.

We also welcomed some new furniture to our home! There is nothing better than new couches.

Couches and mantle

We also got some guest bedroom items.

Guest bedroom

We have family and friends arriving in a little over a week for my baby shower.

Mom, if you'reading this, I promise we'll get a box spring and mattress in there soon. And probably some lamps:)

New car smell

While Mr. M was playing in the sunshine, I was busy test driving SUVs. It's been a great 11 years with our Kia Sorento, but the time has come to upgrade.

Let's just say a LOT has changed in the past ten years when it comes to cars. I can't get over the fact that rear view guidance, Bluetooth and lane change indicators are now pretty standard across the board. I also can't get over the prices ... jeez.

The big debate is if we need the third row of seating in an SUV or not (feel free to let me know your thoughts on this if you have kids). With a third row we could feasibly fit another adult or two in the car with us, or the dogs. That seems essential for road trips.

Note: I'm not going to get into the minivan conversation. I totally get that they are amazing and would meet ALL our needs. And yet I just can't do it:)

With that in mind, here is what I drove this weekend (all new models):

  • Toyota Highlander - Everyone has one and I get why; good ease of use and good price point.
  • Acura MDX - Like driving a comfy couch.
  • Mazda CX-9 - I knew nothing about Mazda but was surprised how sporty this car was!
  • Audi Q7 - I couldn't resist trying it out ... sigh. Of course I loved it. I can't really justify the price, but it was lovely.
  • Kia Sorento - You have to give them credit for the redesigns, but not sure about the resell value.
  • Volvo XC60 & XC90 - The new XC90 comes out in a month. I think I'll have to hold out and drive that redesign to be sure we're making the right call.
  • Honda Pilot - More truck than SUV. No thank you.

Can I just say, it's hard to make a decision! The trim packages and upgrades were pretty standard across the board. I guess the next steps are to take the car seat and stroller to check out what fits best in these trunks.

Let the research continue!

Chicken Cacciatore

When you have chicken on the menu, it can seem a little daunting. It feels like you've done it all before. The question pops into your head, "How do I make this interesting? Different? Fun?"

Wait no more, friends. This is a relatively simple chicken dish that is comforting and feels surprisingly new.


Serves 4
Olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of a large skillet with a lid
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs*
1 cup all-purpose flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded, cored, and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and sliced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 ounces white or brown button mushrooms, sliced*
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
14- to 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
8 ounces tomato sauce
8 ounces chicken broth
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup torn fresh oregano leaves
Grated parmesan for serving
Cooked pasta or soft polenta for serving

*I used skinless thighs which still browned up nicely. I also skipped the mushrooms.

To make

Chop up all your veggies so they are ready to go when you need them.

Chopped veggies

Coat the skillet with olive oil, up the sides of the pan about 1/4 inch, and heat. Dredge the chicken thighs in the seasoned flour and brown each side until golden (I could have let them go a tad longer). Remove the thighs and set aside.

Chicken thighs

Drain oil from the skillet (the bacon will add plenty of oil to the pan) and add the chopped bacon. Cook until almost crisp and then add the 2 peppers, onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the dried basil, dried oregano, ground fennel, red pepper flakes, and salt. Continue to sauté until you can smell the garlic, another few minutes.

Sauteed veggies

Crush the plum tomatoes with your clean hands (watch the exploding juices!) to break them up and add to the skillet along with the juices from the can. Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth. Return the chicken thighs to the skillet, skin side up, and bathe the sauce over the pieces.

Ready to simmer

Bring everything up to a simmer and continue to simmer, partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes. After the 30 to 40 minute simmer, stir in the fresh basil and oregano.

Serve a chicken thigh and some of the sauce with peppers over spaghetti, some soft polenta or farro. Shower a little Parmesan over the top and enjoy!

The results

In an hour these chicken thighs were braised and tender, sitting in a sauce that was thick and delicious. Of course I served my meat and veggies over some polenta.

Final dish

This was incredibly flavorful though, and seemed like it had been bubbling away much longer than 35 minutes. That bubble time gives you a chance to walk away and do other things too, which is wonderful. I knocked out some work email and folded laundry before I had to come back and make the polenta.

Finally, the biggest plus is the veggie factor. This dish is full of all the best things for you (maybe minus the bacon fat?). Have a serving or two and enjoy!

Leftover update: I made lunch a few days later with the chicken and veggie sauce over brown rice. The only seasoning it needed was some pepper. SO good.

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina