Chicken Cacciatore

chicken first

You know that saying, “You don’t appreciate what you have until you almost lose it?” This time last week I thought I had completely lost my blog. Life was spinning out of control with busyness, and I neglected to renew the domain on WordPress. Then one day, about two weeks after it had expired, I tried to access my site and couldn’t. To say I had a meltdown is an understatement. But then reality inserted itself into my teeth gnashing and moaning and groaning (okay, I tend to exaggerate a little). Stop, hold the presses, I didn’t lose a family member. All the pets are okay. Jeannine, you’re getting this upset over a website?

chicken mug

I calmed down, contacted the support people at WordPress, who were extremely helpful, and as you can see, Jeannine’s Cuisine is up and running again, this time with automatic renewals scheduled. And, as a result, I did some serious thinking about what this blog means to me and why.

chicken beer

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post. It was an extremely busy summer and moving into fall it wasn’t much better. I actually considered putting the blog on hold until I retired. But I think everyone needs a creative outlet of some sort and this little blog, that I only manage to post to once in a while, is mine. It’s not a business, and may never become one, although it was, and perhaps still is, my goal. I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. However, it is a way to express myself and share what I love with friends and family. Yes, I did get upset, because each time I do a post I’m creating something that is essentially me- my thoughts, my cooking, my photography. And I get to share it with others. How cool is that?

Enough philosophizing. Let’s move on to the food, shall we? Aren’t you glad autumn is finally here? I know some people love summer and dread the coming of winter. But I’m one of those that needs summer so I can enjoy the transition to fall. Today’s recipe is perfect for today’s damp cloudy weather.


Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. This dish is a stewy chicken dish with onion, mushrooms, herbs, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Serve it with a side of pasta or some bread to soak up the sauce if that’s your thing, or if you are watching your carbs, it’s just as good by itself.

top down recipe

Slow Cooker (or not) Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 4-6

No slow cooker? No problem. Just make the recipe in a Dutch oven, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. This dish is great for using up end of summer tomatoes, but if you don’t have any or can’t get decent ones, just substitute a 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, chopped. To peel and seed the tomatoes, drop them in boiling water for 1 minutes. The peel will come right off. Cut in half horizonally and squeeze the seeds out.

3 tablespoons butter or other fat of choice, divided

2 pounds chicken thighs

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 tablespoon each of finely chopped basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram (or use 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Season the chicken very well with salt and pepper.  Do not fear the salt.

Raw Chicken

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan. Brown the chicken in the pan, in batches as necessary, about 5 minutes. The chicken should be golden brown. Transfer chicken pieces to slow cooker as you go.


If you are cooking this dish on the stove, remove the chicken until you cook the vegetables, then add it back to the pot with the tomatoes.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan and sauté the onion, pepper, celery and mushrooms until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. Pour the vegetable mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, paprika, herbs, and a little more salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Adapted from The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian and Chris Kresser

Chinese Five-Spice Chicken

Five Spice Chicken 1

I don’t know about you, but about this time of the year I am looking for ways to get dinner on the table — fast.  All the decorating, package wrapping, and card sending don’t leave much time for leisurely experiments in the kitchen. 

Confession — I absolutely love the idea of Martha Stewart.  Many years ago I attended a wedding shower where one of the gifts for the bride-to-be was her original Entertaining book.  All it took was one look through that book, and I was hooked.  I purchased Entertaining as soon as I could afford it and proceeded to cook my way through it, hosting as many dinner and cocktail parties as I could manage.  That book was eventually followed by the Martha Stewart’s Christmas book.  Well, that one sent my fantasies of a perfectly decorated house, gifts made at home, and a constant stream of adoring visitors to my country estate right through the roof.  Reality check — There was no country estate, I was active duty in the Army, and had a work schedule that absolutely did not allow for meticulously creating Christmas puddings, pomanders, and conserves, as much as I would have liked to do so.

Five Spice Chicken 2

So, as much as I would love to be making something much more elaborate, a quick seared chicken dish is much more my speed when my “to do” list is the size of the New York City phone book.  I’ll save the elaborate Martha projects for the holiday itself.  Meanwhile I’m cooking from Weeknight Paleo, 9 Weeks of Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Meals, by Amber Beam.  I found a chicken dish that looked like it would have some flavor, but more important it was a breeze to prepare.  I made the original idea my own by eliminating a matchstick salad and using the salad dressing ingredients to create a sauce to go over the chicken and the rice I served it with.  It’s full of flavor – but maybe a little too much for some.  This dish is spicy.  If you want to tame the heat you can cut back or eliminate the chili garlic sauce, the cayenne or both.  I collect condiments like some women collect shoes, so I had an Asian Chili Garlic Sauce in the pantry.  A variety of choices is available at any supermarket with an Asian section.    

Five Spice Chicken 3

Chinese Five-Spice Chicken

4-6 Servings

This dish is extremely adaptable.  If gluten is not a problem for you, regular or sodium soy sauce and hoisin sauce would work fine.  Gluten-free soy sauce, also called tamari, and gluten-free hoisin sauce are available at Whole Foods.  If dairy is a concern, use all coconut oil in place of the butter. This dish can be made with chicken breast instead of thighs; you will need to cut back the cooking time to 4-5 minutes total.  

2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon finely peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce

2 tablespoons Asian chili garlic sauce

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons gluten-free Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Place the Chinese five-spice powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a Ziploc bag, shake a little to blend spices then add the chicken thighs, making sure the thighs are unrolled if they were rolled in the package.  Shake well until chicken is completely coated with the spice mixture.

Melt coconut oil and butter in a large sauté pan. Remove the chicken from the Ziploc bag and brown in the pan until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees, about 3 minutes per side on medium high.  Remove the chicken from the pan, and set aside on a plate. 

Turn the heat down to medium, add the ginger and the garlic to the pan, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Add the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, vinegar, Hoisin sauce, honey, and sesame oil to the pan and reduce until sauce is thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and turn over a couple of times to coat the chicken with the glaze.  Simmer about 5 minutes to rewarm the chicken.  Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.    

Adapted from Weeknight Paleo, 9 Weeks of Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Meals, by Amber Beam