After spending a weekend with the family, I felt like my return to apartment life could benefit from some real home cooking. Time for a Mom Recipe, you know? I don’t know if Spring has sprung where you are yet, but even here in southern California the nights are chilly enough to encourage stewy, braise-y dinners. So readers, today you’re lucky enough to learn about one of our most popular family recipes: my mom’s chicken cacciatore.
Cacciatore is Italian for ‘hunter,’ and as I understand it, the idea behind the dish is that hunters are able to pick up wild mushrooms while out in the forest. I don’t claim any real Italian authenticity, but the thing that sets this recipe apart is the sauce. Ohhh, the sauce… It’s tomato-based, but doesn’t really even taste like a tomato sauce. Some kind of magic alchemy goes on between the wine, broth and aromatics that yields something complex, herbaceous, and completely revelatory.
My mom’s original recipe was the perfect sauce, straight-up, with a jar of marinated mushrooms stirred in. It’s simple and flawless, but I can’t help myself but modify a little to include – what else? – MORE VEGGIES. And the best part is, for such an undeniable comfort food, it’s completely healthy. Just wholesome ingredients that happen to be so good together, you’ll want to lick your bowl!
I never ate mushrooms very often growing up, but in recent years I have come to LOVE them. They’re so earthy and deep with umami flavors, and they’re rich in a lot of essential micronutrients. And honestly… real talk… they appeal to my biological curiosity. The fungi kingdom is so fascinating, sometimes I wish I had pursued a career in mycology. (true life: I’m a total weirdo.)
I use boneless chicken breasts because I like them, but this recipe would also work well with bone-in pieces if that’s what you’re into. The recipe calls for dried marjoram, which I know isn’t really a staple herb in most pantries, but it has such a unique, sweet fragrance. It wouldn’t taste like my childhood without it!
Even for those of you without childhood memories tied to this dish, it’s an instant classic. It’s the kind of cooking that’s a legitimate recreational activity. The kind where you get to open a bottle of wine and settle in for some simple chopping, deglazing, simmering, and decompressing.
Basically, it’s the kind of recipe you want in your family. Trust me!