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help! I tried Cook's Illustreated chicken cacciatore- it's awful

I followed the recipe from the Cook's Illustrated website and made it with red wine as called for and I think it is awful. Has anyone else ever tried this recipe? Is it me or is it the recipe?

Should i throw it out? Is there anything I can do to save it? Thanks

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  1. Why do you think it awful? Depending on what the problem is, there are any number of ways to save it, from seasoning to thickening, etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DanaB

      It does not have a good flavor like you get with other chicken thighs, browned and simmered in tomatoes and white wine etc recipes.
      Also the red wine stained the chicken a most unappetizing color. How can I save this? THANK YOU!

      1. re: vozick

        I'm not familiar with the Cook's Illustrated cacciatore, but I've made the dish before from other sources. Did your recipe call for tomatoes? I would probably add some more tomatoes, maybe roasted, as their red color might help dilute the red wine shade you find unappealing.

        You could also take out the chicken pieces and run them briefly under the broiler to give the skin a browner, less red-winey coloring.

        Have you considered adding some concentrated chicken flavor, like a bit of "Better than Boullion," to give the dish a more intense chicken flavor?

        Also, sometimes simply adding salt and pepper and simmering the dish a little longer to let the flavors meld is all a dish needs to come together.

        If I were you, I'd experiment a bit before throwing it out. If you are going to chuck it anyway, you really can't do any harm. Other things that would compliment a traditional cacciatore would include garlic and herbs (oregano, dried basil, maybe some bay leaf), caramelized onions, or roasted peppers.

    2. Unfortunately 'awful' doesn't give us much of an idea of what is wrong with it. It just means you don't like it.


      4 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        It has an almost gamey taste. I used FRESH kosher chicken thighs. It is not spoiled it is just raw tasting, not finished and rounded as a white wime dish would be. I used chianti for the dry red wine. I took this recipe right from the website.

          1. re: vozick


            I am a big cacciatore fan andI prefer white wine in most chicken recipes as well and can't quite put my finger on it, I think the discolored chicken meat is one part, a heavily wooded chianti may overpower with the wood aging taste as well. Joy of Cooking suggests you use the wine you prefer in its cacciatore recipe if I recall correctly. Coq au vin calls for red wine and I tried a terrific stuffed thigh recipe that called for a bottle of chianti and was terrific, but lost the recipe.


            1. re: vozick

              "Fresh". When you purchased it - did you cook it right away? Or leave it a day or so in the frig? It sounds to me like it was the chicken. I've had instances where I've bought what should have been "fresh", and it wasn't. It happens. Shouldn't, but it can.

          2. The CI recipe has all of the herbs and tomatoes. CI always removes the skin from thighs after browning them in order to make fond.

            1. Perhaps rinse and drain the chicken, then boil (or bake), then use in chicken salad or something.

              1. If the meat tastes odd to you there is the possibility that it spent too long unrefrigerated before you got it and it DID get spoiled. Gamey is not a word I want associated with my chicken. Once in a blue moon there can be a slip up. Depending on your chutzpah you can return the label and your receipt to the store and ask for a refund, or credit. I would.

                That being said, if you feel there is really no possibility it is spoiled, you need to repair it or toss it and just don't torture yourself. Got any more of that chianti? Have a glass and cook something else or order some delivery.

                To repair it you need to cut up the meat and discard the skin, discard the bad sauce. Cutting the meat into pieces allows the cover-up flavors to contact more surface area and other ingredients to mix in better. I would probably take the cut up meat, make a simple canned tomato, fried minced onion, garlic, chopped fresh veg. (whatever you have on hand - sliced zuchini, bell pep.), al dente pasta - casserole, with parmesan if you don't keep kosher at home, and bake it at 350 for about a half hour.

                1. I took out the pieces of chicken, added 2 TBS of tomato paste and and reduced the sauce. I will let it sit overnight and try it then. It may have been improved by the reduction and adition.
                  I will try to remember that I do not like chicken in red wine, and not do it again.

                  1. her's a good cacciatore recipe; simple and delicious:

                    Brown chicken parts in olive oil, set aside. In the same pan, saute 1 large onion cut into chunks, 3 med cloves of garlic, diced, and cook over med heat till limp. Return chicken to pan, add 1 large can of stewed tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes (with juice) chunked up. Scrape the bottom to get the crusty bits dissolving into the juices.

                    Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes with some marjoram and thyme and a couple of bay leaves, S&P. You can do this stovetop or in a 300 degree oven.

                    After 20 min or so, add 1/2 # quartered mushrooms, 1/2 c marinated artichoke hearts, and some white wine-1/2 c or so. My 1960's era recipe calls for sauterne! Continue to cook for another 10-15 min.

                    Serve over rice.

                    This just gets better, serve the next day if you can wait.

                    1. Using the process of elimination, the goal is to find the guilty party...um...ingredient. If all you used was chicken, wine, herbs, tomatoes etc and you get a gamey-off flavor, most likely it was the chicken.

                      In any case, where there is any doubt that an ingredient like chicken might be spoiled, you must throw it out. Why take chances?

                      1. I'm NOT a big CC fan but this is a recipe that I have used and it is good.

                        CHICKEN CACCIATORE

                        1 4 lb. chicken cut into serving pieces
                        1/4-cup olive oil
                        2 oz. pancetta or salt pork, chopped
                        1/4-cup butter
                        2 medium cloves garlic, chopped fine
                        The liver and the gizzard, finely chopped
                        1-teaspoon rosemary, chopped
                        1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
                        A few twists of the pepper mill
                        Salt to taste
                        2 cups canned whole Italian Plum tomatoes, with their juice and chopped
                        1-tablespoon tomato paste

                        In a deep, heavy bottomed stew pot, heat the oil, butter, and pancetta over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes and add the onions. Cook for 4 minutes more or until onions wilt, then add the chicken pieces, liver and gizzard. Cook for 8 minutes longer, stirring frequently to prevent burning, Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, the salt and pepper to taste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Leaving the cover slightly ajar, simmer slowly over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. No More! Taste for salt and serve piping hot. The sauce is excellent served on pasta as a side dish

                        1. I'd bring this up with CI, they're pretty good about follow up corrections, but be sure to be as specific as possible about how you got to that point.

                          1. Voz

                            When I decided for the first time to make CC, I looked up recipes. The one I liked the best was very simple. It goes like this. Make your favourite tomato/meat sauce. Instead of ground beef (Or whatever meat you use), substitue a cut up chicken. Serve over pasta.

                            I do that and it's great.


                            1. did you cook in cast iron? reaction with acids in tomatoes or wine can produce some very poor results in tomato-based dishes.

                              1. I let it sit for 24 hours and it got much better.