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Chicken cacciatore is a rustic Italian braised ‘hunter’s’ stew made of wine and tomato braised chicken or rabbit and simple vegetables. This Instant Pot Paleo Chicken Cacciatore is full of fennel, mushrooms and sweet peppers in a hearty stew that eats like a pasta sauce and is the perfect topper for spiralized zucchini noodles (aka, zoodles!). To make this cacciatore paleo and whole30 compliant, I’ve omitted the wine in favour of balsamic vinegar for that tangy kick.
I must confess I didn’t eat cacciatora once during my time working and travelling in Italy but I did eat a lot of fennel. Fennel is hands-down my favourite winter salad star, my favourite sneaky addition to meatballs and what I would consider the star of this chicken cacciatore. Fennel looks a lot trickier than it is to cut, don’t let its bulbous exterior freak you out – I made a video to show how to easily prepare it.
Fennel and balsamic vinegar give this dish a depth of flavour that makes it seem like it didn’t come from an Instant Pot in 15 minutes. Balsamic vinegar comes in many qualities, but for this recipe opt for a lower cost, thinner, salad balsamic that you would typically find in a grocery store in a larger bottle. This is not the application for a thick syrupy expensive balsamic! If you’d like to explore the intricate world of balsamic vinegar, I’d suggest giving this Serious Eats guide to balsamic vinegar a good read.
IS BALSAMIC VINEGAR ALLOWED DURING THE WHOLE30?
Yes! Most vinegar is okay throughout the Whole30, with the exception of malt vinegar because it contains gluten. With balsamic vinegar, you’re looking for a product that doesn’t have “caramel” or added “sulphites”, meaning the sulphites are listed on the ingredient list. A listing that says “may contain sulphites” is compliant because vinegar naturally contains sulphites. Cooked grape must is totally fine for the Whole30.