When asked about her family’s holiday food traditions, Amy Cortright remembers: “Growing up, we always celebrated Christmas Eve with the Italian side of our family. Today, we continue the tradition on Christmas Day, but instead of a formal sit-down dinner of ham or turkey, Dad (Paul DiNolo, a.k.a. Nonno to his grandchildren) makes a huge pot of cacciatore. We sit down to eat it eat casually, with Italian bread, while enjoying each other’s company.”
“This recipe easily scales up or down and tastes best when made a day or two before to allow the flavors to better mix. And, yes, we use both chicken and sausage together in the same dish when we make it.”
- 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 onions, thickly sliced
- 4 to 5 green bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into strips
- 2 red bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into strips
- 3 cloves garlic, minced, or to taste
- Dash cream sherry or dry white wine
- fresh or dried oregano, basil, parsley, and rosemary, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 28-ounce can ground peeled tomatoes
- 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
- 6 sweet Italian sausages and/or
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- pinch rubbed sage, optional
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and cook the onions and peppers until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft. Add garlic and heat about two minutes, being careful not to burn it. Deglaze with sherry or wine and cook a few minutes more, adding other optional seasonings as you go.
Add the tomatoes. Having the two different kinds creates a nice variation in texture. Lower heat and let simmer while you cook the meat.
Heat the sausages in boiling water until a white foam forms at the top of the water. Drain, pat dry, and then fry in a skillet with olive oil until cooked through. Cut the sausages into thick slices on a bias and add to the tomato sauce.
Dredge chicken in a mixture of flour seasoned with pinches of salt, pepper, and sage. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and fry the chicken on all sides. Deglaze with a bit more wine then scrape the entire contents of the pan into the tomato sauce.
Simmer the cacciatore until delicious, correcting seasonings. Serve with crusty bread.
Serves 6 to 8