Chicken Cacciatore was one of the first real “main course” dishes I learned how to make. I don’t know why I was so attracted to it, but it became for a time one the stars of my young adult repertoire. It felt very homey and somehow a little sophisticated at the same time (the word “cacciatore”, which means hunter in Italian may have had something to do with it. You could say “booger” in Italian and it would sound sexy).
So this hunter-style stew featuring poultry and vegetables was a go-to for a while, and then I forgot about it. For years. And years. And then I saw it on a menu and thought, why in the world did I forsake this timeless dish? Sometimes it’s made with rabbit – but not in my house. I know rabbit is a perfectly respectable protein, and very popular in parts of the world, but it’s just not going to happen for me.
Classic Chicken Cacciatore
This is a pretty classic cacciatore recipe, with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, red wine and garlic. Mushrooms are a common add-in, and I included them here, because why not? I love mushrooms, and while my family is less constantly enthusiastic about them, they were very happy to see them snuggled up in this tangy sauce. The most un-classic thing about this cacciatore is just the appliance it’s cooked in: the Instant Pot.
Cacciatore in the Instant Pot
The magic takes place in the instant pot, where the chicken can be seared, the vegetables can be sautéed, and then the whole thing can come together with the pressure cooker function. One pot to wash, and once everything is browned and returned to the pot together with the sauce, 20 minutes is all it takes to get to this total comfort food meal.
This classic Italian dish meets up with the Instant Pot to become a easy and satisfying weeknight dinner.Tweet This
How Long to Cook Chicken Cacciatore in an Instant Pot
First, you will want to sear the chicken, so that the skin has some firmn ess to it, even after it cooks in the sauce at the end. When the oil is hot, add the chicken skin side down and sear for about 4 minutes, then flip the chicken and sear the bottoms for another 4 minutes or so.
Then the chicken gets transferred out, the vegetables are sauteed, then the chicken is added back to the pot with the sauce ingredients. Re-seal the Instant Pot and cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes. Once the cooking time has finished, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
What to Serve Chicken Cacciatore with
Often cacciatore is served with noodles, and popular noodles choices are egg noodles, fettuccine, and linguine. Other choices are potatoes, steamed or roasted, gnocchi, or rice. No starch underneath is also ok, but please think about a loaf of crusty bread to soak up all that sauce – you don’t want to let that get scraped into the trash uneaten, no no.
Polenta is another terrific choice, either a soft bed of polenta, or you could brown up some slices of packaged precooked polenta in a tube. You can do that either in a hot pan with a bit of oil, sautéing it until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes per side, or brush the polenta slices with oil and cook them in a 425° oven for about 15 minutes.
And yeah, if you are cutting back on carbs I guess you could just serve the chicken as is, and watch people try and scrape up all the sauce with a fork.
Wine in Chicken Cacciatore
I like to use a dry red wine in this, which is the type of red wine I most often gravitate to when cooking. And the same wine you use to cook the chicken will also be the perfect pairing for the dish. Many wines will be terrific choices: pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, or a Shiraz are some options. This is a good question to ask of the person who works at your local wine store.
Make Ahead Chicken Cacciatore
You can make the chicken cacciatore up to 4 days ahead of time (providing the chicken you use is quite fresh) and reheat it slowly on the stove, in the oven, or even in the Instant Pot before serving.
More Instant Pot Recipes to Try:
- Instant Pot Mediterranean Lamb Stew
- Instant Pot Ziti “Lasagna” with Bolognese Sauce
- Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto
- Instant Pot Chicken Paprikash
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Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 2 to 2 ½ pounds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion halved and sliced
- 1 bell pepper cored and sliced
- 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic very thinly sliced
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Cooked pasta rice or polenta to serve (optional)
- Turn the Instant Pot to the Saute setting on High. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the chicken skin side down and sear for about 4 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. Flip the chicken with tongs and sear the bottoms until they are also golden brown, another 4 minutes or so. Transfer the chicken to a plate (do this in batches if necessary).
- Add the onions to the remaining oil in the pan, and saute until they are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, mushrooms and garlic and saute for 4 minutes until peppers start to soften. The Saute setting of the Instant Pot will only stay on for 30 minutes, so if you happen to be taking your time with all of this you may have to reset the appliance to the Saute setting.
- Add the red wine and stir to loosen up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and red pepper flakes. Turn off the Saute setting. Add the chicken back to the pot.
- Close the lid and set the vent knob to sealed. Set the Instant Pot on High Pressure, for 20 minutes. Once the cooking time has finished, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then open the valve to release any remaining pressure. An internal thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh should read 160°F (the temperature will climb another 5 degrees to a safe internal temperature of 165°F while it is resting).
- Serve the chicken in a shallow serving bowl with the vegetables and sauce, sprinkled with the parsley, with the starch of choice if desired.
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