The rich and hearty taste of this dish belies the ease of preparation. Part of the secret is enhancing good-quality storebought tomato sauce with fresh green bell pepper and mushrooms. The rest of the secret is hidden under the lid of the pressure cooker.
I often serve the cacciatore with parmesan mashed potatoes, but rice or polenta are also good choices.
SERVES 4 AS A MAIN COURSE
8 MINUTES HIGH PRESSURE PLUS NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onions or leeks
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
½ cup red wine
10 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced or quartered
3 pounds bone-in skinned chicken breast halves, thighs, or a combination
2 cups good-quality tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
One can (6 ounces) pitted black olives, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese, plus more to pass at the table
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a 4-quart or larger cooker. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and boil until about half evaporates. Scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
Stir in the mushrooms. Set the chicken on top. Cover the chicken with tomato sauce. Do not stir. Plop the tomato paste on top.
Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.
Stir in the olives, parsley, red pepper flakes (if using), cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the cacciatore rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
To serve, lightly dust each portion with cheese and sprinkle with parsley. Pass extra cheese in a bowl.
Cook-Along Potatoes (6-quart or larger cooker): Arrange 2 to 3 pounds medium potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and quartered, on top of the tomato sauce.
Instead of adding ripe black olives at the end, cook cacciatore with one or more varieties of Mediterranean olive, such as Cerignola, niçoise, or picholines.
Stir in a bunch of chopped arugula along with olives.
Vary flavor by using tomato sauce with sausage or roasted garlic.
Transformations (Follow basic recipe except as noted)
Pasta and Chicken Cacciatore (6-quart or larger cooker): After adding mushrooms, stir in 1½ cups chicken broth and 12 ounces short pasta (preferably a variety with crevices, such as spirals or campanelle) that normally cooks within 9 to 12 minutes. Instead of bone-in chicken, use 2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks. Cook under pressure for 5 minutes, then quick-release. Stir well as you add remaining ingredients. Separate any pasta that is stuck together, and release any that is clinging to bottom of cooker. If pasta is not uniformly cooked, cover and steam in residual heat during resting period.
Turkey Cacciatore: Substitute skinned, boneless turkey thighs, 7 to 10 ounces each. Timing remains the same.
For electric and high-BTU stoves, set a heat diffuser under cooker before bringing up to pressure.
The ½ cup wine, supplemented by ample liquid given off by onions, mushrooms, and chicken, is sufficient to bring up the pressure and create plenty of sauce.
Adapted from PRESSURE PERFECT, copyright Lorna Sass, 2009