New Recipe: Fall Chicken Cacciatore

The Ultimate Chicken Stew with Fall Vegetables, Apple Brandy and Tarragon. Perfect for a Rosh Hashanah Holiday Meal or Family Gathering – and Reheats Well! Gluten- free. 

The ultimate Fall Chicken Stew, suitable for a holiday dinner or weeknight meal

The ultimate Fall Chicken Stew, suitable for a holiday dinner or weeknight meal. Credit: Karen Sheer

Fall-off-the-bone tender with a generous portion of vegetables. Credit: Karen Sheer

Fall-off-the-bone tender with a generous portion of vegetables. Credit: Karen Sheer

I call this an “ultimate fall recipe” as all the ingredients melt together in the oven and produce chicken that is tender and falls-off the bone  – with a bounty of vegetables.
Serve with your favorite grain or pasta to soak up the wonderful sauce.

Fall vegetables include: butternut squash, parnips, celery root, shallots, garlic and a mix of mushrooms. Tarragon adds a nice natural “anise” essence which I love! Fall pears add a natural sweetness and flavor to the mingle.

Please use a good apple brandy, not one which is artificially flavored or colored (without “natural flavors” added.) Calvados is an apple brandy from the Normandy region in France. The U.S. is now one of the most exciting producers of the historic spirit. Many are aged in oak barrels for mellowing.

Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. Typically the dish is braised with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers and sometimes wine. I’m loving this non- tomato version, with fall ingredients I mostly picked up at my local farmers’ market.

Recipe: Fall Chicken Cacciatore


  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat 
  • 4 – 6 medium chicken drums sticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt & pepper, (half of each)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons salt-free seasoning* – divided
  • ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced, about 2 1/2 cups (baby bella, shiitake and oyster)
  • 1 ½ cups butternut squash, from the bulb end of the squash, sliced 1/3″thick
  • ½ cup parsnip, peeled, 1/2″ slices
  • ½ cup celery root, peeled, 1/2″ slices
  • ¾ cup shallots, peeled, 1/2″ slices
  • 4 medium fresh garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour, or gluten-free flour blend
  • ¼ cup calvados, apple brandy
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup natural apple cider
  • 4 large sprigs fresh tarragon, (more for garnishing)
  • 1 medium ripe pear, such as anjou

    Wash and dry chicken. Rub in salt and pepper, set aside, or leave overnight in a ziplock bag. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Heat 1 T. of oil in a large skillet (I use a seasoned cast iron.) Set heat medium- high and add half of the chicken browning on all sides, about 6 -8 minutes.
    Remove chicken to a large platter, add remaining chicken and repeat. Scrape any brown bits from the pan, add to chicken.
    Sprinkle the chicken with 1 T. of salt-free seasoning, rub in.Wipe pan clean, add 1 T. oil and raise heat to high. Add the mushrooms, and sauté, stirring until they are a deep golden color, about 3 minutes.
    Remove them to a large clean plate.
    Add 1 T. oil to pan with the butternut squash, cook over medium-high heat until golden, stirring, about 5 minutes.
    Add them to the plate with the mushrooms.

    Add 1 T. oil to the pan with the parsnips, celery root, shallots and garlic. Sauté over low heat until softened, and just starting to color a bit.
    Add 2 T. flour, one teaspoon salt-free seasoning – stir one minute. Add the calvados, raise heat to high, then add the broth and apple cider.
    Stir well with a whisk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes to slightly reduce and thicken.

    Add chicken to a large, heavy oven baking dish (non aluminum). 11″ x 15″. Pour the sauce over, it should reach half way up to the height of the chicken.
    (Reserve the butternut squash and mushrooms, will add later.)
    Tuck the tarragon sprigs into the sauce and cover tightly with heavy foil.

    Braise for 45 minutes, remove from oven – add the butternut squash and mushrooms. Core the pear, and cut into 1/3″ long slices. Add them to the pan as well.
    Cover and bake another 45 minutes until the chicken is tender, and falls off the bone.

    Cool a bit, the sauce will thicken as it stands. Taste for salt, add if necessary (will depend on the saltiness of the broth.)
    For a pungent taste, and some more acidity, add a teaspoon to two of apple cider vinegar, or another tablespoon of calvados.

    Serve over your favorite grain or pasta, and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves.

    *A great spice blend:  Karen’s Peruvian Spice Blend  (has a little salt)
    Use your favorite blend, as spicy as you like.
    More information see: Fall Chicken Cacciatore

    This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.

    Ingredients for the Fall Cacciatore. Credit: Karen Sheer

    Ingredients for the Fall Cacciatore. Credit: Karen Sheer

    Karen Sheer lives and cooks in Greenwich. She is a professional chef, writer, caterer, photographer and food consultant specializing in original recipes. Her blog is “A Zest For Life”– Karen’s Obsession with Food and Style. Each recipe is inventive, original and well tested. Karen’s recipes are written to give you the feeling she is in the kitchen with you coaching step by step. Health and wellness are her passions. Karen’s recipes promote fresh, local ingredients which lead to a healthier lifestyle!


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