This easy chicken cacciatore pasta recipe makes spaghetti cacciatore – although you could use any pasta you have in the pantry. Created to use up leftover chicken cacciatore, the hearty chicken pasta is a 1970s retro-classic from the Italian-Australian diaspora that’s completely inauthentic – Italians don’t eat pasta with main course dishes – but it’s delicious all the same.
One of our best pasta recipes, this chicken cacciatore pasta recipe for an endearingly old-fashioned spaghetti cacciatore, like the chicken cacciatore recipe we recently shared, is a result of reminiscing with my wife in the kitchen over glasses of wine about our Australian childhoods, which inevitably turns to recollections of food memories.
I was telling Lara about an Italian restaurant my parents took us to in Brisbane when I was a kid that specialised in chicken cacciatore and spaghetti cacciatore. She took it as a challenge to create the best chicken cacciatore recipe and spaghetti cacciatore recipe she could. I think she’s succeeded. Let us know what you think.
For Italians, chicken cacciatore, a main course or second course, should never be combined with pasta, a first course. Chicken cacciatore is only eaten with rustic bread to mop up the sauce. But in the Italian diasporas in Australia and the USA and elsewhere, that’s exactly what happened.
And while we love authentic Italian food, we have no problem tucking into a bowl of Italian-Australian pasta or Italian-American pasta, as long as it’s delicious. Because ‘authenticity’ is a loaded concept, and let’s face it: this recipe is ‘authentic’ for Italian-Australian cooks, not to mention Italian-Americans for whom chicken cacciatore is almost always eaten with pasta.
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Chicken Cacciatore Pasta Recipe for Spaghetti Cacciatore for a Retro-Classic from the 1970s
This chicken cacciatore pasta recipe for spaghetti cacciatore didn’t drop out of the sky, although like a lot of our recipes for retro-classics from the 1970s and 80s, it’s a result of us recollecting childhood memories over a bottle of wine.
When Lara and I get nostalgic and share stories about growing up in our respective hometowns in Australia – Lara was born in Sydney and I was raised in Brisbane – the conversation inevitably turns to food.
When I was a kid growing up in Brisbane my dad owned an accountancy firm that ‘did the books’ for lots of different clients in all kinds of fields of small business.
Many of the clients were Italian – so much so that my dad even produced a red wine with Italian-Australian business friends after buying up some Riverina grapes from New South Wales for an Italian table wine.
I remember it had a rabbit on the label because the friends loved nothing more than a rabbit stew. It was terrible wine, which I later found out was produced as a way around his clients paying a rather hefty tax bill.
Another interesting client was a couple who ran an Italian pasta restaurant that I’m pretty sure was called Cacciatore. I think it’s pretty obvious what their speciality was – chicken cacciatore.
I’m also pretty sure that the only menu options were what size giant bowl you wanted your cacciatore to come in and whether or not you wanted an equally giant bowl of spaghetti cacciatore.
I also remember that the ‘kids menu’ consisted of spaghetti in a rich tomato sauce that was the same sauce for the cacciatore.
A basket of roughly cut rustic bread, olive oil, and your choice of white or red wine were the only other options – thankfully, not the wine that my dad and his co-conspirators produced.
I always wondered how such a narrowly focused restaurant stayed in business. But it did and we went there about once a month to be treated to endless bowls of spaghetti in tomato sauce for the kids, and copious amounts of chicken cacciatore and red wine for the adults.
Just a few tips to making this chicken cacciatore pasta recipe for spaghetti cacciatore as it’s very straightforward.
Tips to Making this Chicken Cacciatore Pasta Recipe for Spaghetti Cacciatore
We only have a few tips to making this chicken cacciatore pasta recipe for spaghetti cacciatore as it’s super simple. Of course, it was created so that you could use your leftover chicken cacciatore, so first you’ll need to make that. You’ll find our chicken cacciatore recipe here.
A thick spaghetti normally takes 8-9 minutes to cook on average, but do follow the packet instructions, just cook it a minute or two under al dente as it will continue to cook and expand when it’s in the sauce.
Italian food, including the food of the Italian-Australian and Italian-American communities, is always about quality ingredients, even more so when it’s simple povera cucina food from the countryside.
Assuming you’ve made the chicken cacciatore, but if you haven’t, do use the best quality canned Italian tomatoes that you can source and afford.
A good quality sea salt and extra virgin olive oil (preferably) or good quality olive oil is a must. And please use real Parmigiano Reggiano or aged Pecorino Romano, even if you buy a small wedge and use it sparingly.
Please avoid that grated ‘parmesan cheese’ from the supermarket that looks like saw dust. There’s a reason for that. Tests found that some brands contained cellulose, made from wood pulp.
Serve your chicken cacciatore pasta with a fresh crispy garden salad and crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.
Chicken Cacciatore Pasta Recipe for Spaghetti Cacciatore
- 450 g chicken cacciatore sauce
- 200 g thick spaghetti eg spaghettoni or bucatini
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Fresh basil leaves
- Crusty bread
- In a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat, warm up the chicken cacciatore. When the sauce is hot and the chicken warmed-through, use forks to pull the chicken meat off any bones, and tongs to remove the bones from the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a teaspoon of salt, then add the spaghetti to the boiling salted water, give it a stir to ensure it’s all separated, and cook it for a minute less than the packet instructions direct until it’s almost al dente; no longer, as the spaghetti will continue to expand when added to the sauce.
- When the spaghetti is cooked, reserve a metric cup of cooking water before draining the spaghetti into a colander.
- Transfer the spaghetti to the sauce, add half a cup of pasta water, and stir it well so the spaghetti is completely covered in sauce, adding a little more cooking water and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for an even more luscious sauce.
- Distribute the spaghetti between the bowls, ladle on any remaining chicken cacciatore sauce in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle on the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, garnish with fresh basil leaves, and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our chicken cacciatore pasta recipe, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.