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Italian Style Chicken In Real Time

My Grandma's Italian Style Chicken (aka Chicken Cacciatore) is a quirky one and a tough one to get right consistently.  I'm going to try it here in real time and blog about it as I go.

So far I have assembled a cut up chicken, with the skin kept on, in a roasting pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom.  I'm realizing that my pan is a bit too small.  I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and placed the chicken, seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder, uncovered in the oven until the skin gets browned and a bit crispy.  I'm hoping the bottom pieces get crispy or else I may switch them around in the pan during cooking.

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Chicken in small roasting pan

So,  after 15 minutes, I took the chicken out.  The top pieces were getting browned, but not underneath.  What I did was transfer the chicken to a larger roasting pan, spreading the pieces out more evenly and adding more oil and spices.  I set timer for 15 more minutes.  Note to self, get a large roasting pan with a cover.  I had one but sold for probably $1.00 at one of my many moving sales.  Sometimes things like this come to bite me, this appears to be one of such times.  I will deal with it and use aluminum foil to cover later on.

After another 15 minutes, the skin is still not very brown nor crispy.  I put back in for another 10 minutes.  I am thinking I may modify to put for 30 mins at 375 degrees.

The skin was much more brown with the additional 15 minutes.  I removed the chicken, added one small can of tomato paste and three small cans of water.  I stirred the paste and water with a fork, returned to the oven, still uncovered and still at 350 degrees, and set for 10 minutes.  My worry now is that the chicken may start to try out.  Let's see how it goes.

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Chicken in larger pan with tomato paste and water added

After 10 minutes, things are looking very good but I'd like to see the liquid boil, so I added another 10 minutes.  Same temp and still uncovered.

Ok!  Looks great.  I took the chicken out of the oven and added one more small can of tomato paste and six small cans of water.  I wanted the liquid to cover all of the chicken, but this roaster isn't deep enough.  My concern will be to watch it so nothing dries out during cooking.  I also added about 1 TB of minced garlic, 1t more onion powder and more pepper.  I stirred all together until paste dissolved into the water, then I covered the roaster with aluminum foil, and reduced oven temperature to 310 degrees (I thought 300 was too low and 325 too high,  so we'll see which is best)  I will cook this for 2 full hours 'low and slow' and will check it every 30 mins.

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Chicken covered with foil

After the first 30, things are looking great.  The liquid seems a little watery so I added one small can of tomato sauce (not paste) and stirred in.  I set the timer for another 30.

After one hour of cooking at 310 degrees, I upped the temp to 325 for the last hour.  I wish that all of the chicken was submerged in the liquid but so far, nothing is drying out that I can tell.  I don't plan on opening it until it is done, one hour from now.

After 2 hours of cooking, the chicken is not falling off of the bone yet, so I'm going to try a bit longer.  I added  some lemon juice and a can of drained black olives and put in for another hour,   moving back down to 310 degrees.

The finished product turned out very well.  The only minor complaint is the breasts were jsut slightly dry.  I'm not sure if that is becsue they were not fully submerged or jsut that they were so big compared to the thighs and legs.  In any case, I think I nailed it.  here is the modified recipe based on my latest kitchen trial.  ENJOY!

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The finished product, served with spaghetti and sauteed spinach

Italian Style Chicken or Chicken Cacciatore


  • Chicken Thighs and Legs, bone in, skin left on.  (enough pieces for your group)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Small Can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Small Can Tomato Sauce
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large roasting pan, pour approx 2 T of olive oil in the bottom.  Add your chicken pieces, evenly along the bottom of pan.  Season with salt, pepper, garilc powder and onion powder, approx 1t of each.  Drizzle a bit more oil over the chicken pieces.  Cook, uncovered, about 20 mins, until chicken skin just beginning to brown and to look crispy.  Do not overcook.

Remove from oven.  Add one small can of tomato paste and 3 small cans of water to pan.  Stir to combine.  Reduce oven temp to 350 degree, and return to oven.  Bake for 30 mins.  Tomato paste and water mixture should begin to slightly boil.

Remove from oven.  Add the other can of tomato paste and 5-6 cans of water, enough to completely cover all the chicken pieces.  Reduce oven temp to 320 degrees.  Cover roaster and place in oven.  Cook for 2 or more hours, checking about every 30 minutes to stir chicken.  Add additional water if  necessary to keep moist.  Chicken should fall off the bone when ready.