Happy Family Cacciatore

Everytime I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I spy the Happy Family Platter on the menu. A conglomeration of chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp. See everyone is happy. This past week we had out of town guests stay with us and I needed to be sure that every meal was a “Happy Family” meal. I was feeding four adults and five children, all with different likes and dislikes. I have a little motto here in my home- go with what you know, and I know Italian food, at least the dishes I grew up enjoying. So I created an Italian version of the Happy Family.

Cacciatora means hunter so this is a hunter-style stew of not only the traditional chicken but meatballs and Italian sausage too. Simmered in a savory sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, red wine, and fresh herbs, my guests each found a little something they loved. The children enjoyed meatballs subs, while we adults enjoyed the chicken, which was fall-apart-tender, along with a link of sausage. A pound of sauteed spinach with garlic and fresh nutmeg accompanied the meal as well as a sour cream cucumber salad. Also for the kids, macaroni and cheese and some rice for the adults to help absorb that delicious sauce.

Happy Family Cacciatore
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, most fat removed
10 links Sweet Italian sausage
20 meatballs-homemade or purchased
1- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt or to taste
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
8 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup good red wine

Place all ingredients in a large crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. Or in a large Dutch oven bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Prior to serving, readjust seasonings. Serve with rolls to make sausage or meatballs subs. Also serve with a side of basmati rice for topping with meats and sauce. Serves about 15.

Note: You may want to provide your guests with mozzarella cheese to melt on subs, Romano cheese for sprinkling, peperoncini peppers, maybe pasta instead of rice. Provide a large salad as well. I think a pound of shrimp thrown in at the very last would have been fantastic as well. Be creative and everyone is happy.


  1. Rindy R
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    Wow – that sounds like everyone was truly happy! Lucky them! Thanks for a new Crock Pot idea – it's time to get mine out!

  2. Maria
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    Looks like everyone will be smiling at dinner time with this one.

  3. Mrsblocko
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 9:35 AM | Permalink

    This sounds scrumptious. I can't wait to give it a try. I'm curious about the sausage though. They come in all sorts of sizes around here. What was the weight of the 10 links you used? oh, and were they precooked?

  4. HoneyB
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    Sounds AWESOME! Would love to be part of your happy family!

  5. oneordinaryday
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    Great idea to feed a crowd. I just had my crock pot out the other day with a big boneless ham in there warming all day. Tasty, and I don't even love ham.
    I'm hosting Jim's whole family in November, and I'm gonna keep this in mind. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    When I make chicken cacciatore, I always cook spaghetti to go with it. The leftovers are delicious. I also do stuffed peppers with a tomato sauce and even though I stuff my peppers with rice, I serve a side dish of spaghetti. Also good leftovers. (Good sub sandwich of the stuffed pepper). Ma

  7. Grace
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    what an inspired dish! i know that i, for one, would be happy–i love rustic and warm-me-to-the-core comfort food.

  8. That Girl
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

    I don't think I've ever even heard of a Happy Family meal – we're kinda happy buddah people – loads of veggies!

  9. Jenn@slim-shoppin
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    I have never made that dish before! I always see it in magazines, and food tv and always say I have to make it. I am bookmarking this recipe for sure!

    Glad you had fun entertaining!

  10. Karen
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Great idea for lots of different tastes… this sounds like it would please everyone!

  11. Patsyk
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    What a great way to satisfy everyone's love of different food!

  12. Robin Sue
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

    MrsBlocko-I did not pre-cook anything! So easy! The sausage was the usual Italian sausage link size from the grocery store. Probably about 2 pounds would be my guess.

  13. unconfidentialcook
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    What a brilliant idea! And I bet each meat was better after being flavored by the others.

  14. Karen
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    Great idea.

  15. Sheila
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    Ooh, I never would have thought of putting nutmeg in the spinach, sounds great. This reminds me of Oktoberfest, too with all the different meats.

  16. An Unconventional Mummy
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm…I'm making this next weekend.

  17. noble pig
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

    Thsi would make my family happy.

  18. Sophie
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 4:29 AM | Permalink

    What a great idea!!! The dish looks so delicious!!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,….all the way!!!

  19. Penny
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

    A wonderful idea to please everyone. You are a thoughtful hostess.

  20. Joan Nova
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

    That's sort of like the last episode of The Next Top Chef — taking a traditional ethnic cuisine and reinventing it into something else. Good job on the Happy Family meal!

  21. Elra
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

    I love this Italian specialty, it's been a while since I made it. Yours look gorgeous Robin.

  22. Kathleen
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

    My family would love this! I bet I could score real big points with this dinner.

  23. Lisa
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 2:08 AM | Permalink

    What a great idea. You have a real gift for hospitality!

  24. Ingrid
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    I see that all the time when we order Chinese take out but it kinda scares. I like your version better but no seafood added. 🙂

  25. Peter M
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    I would no doubt be part of the "extended happy family". Sweet sausage is a fine addition.

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