Why does Chicken Cacciatore improve with reheating?

daveinjerseyDecember 15, 2011

I cobbled together a chicken cacciatore recipe from several found on the web, and find that it gets much better after a few reheatings. I never eat it on the day it's made. After having it for dinner the next day, I find it's better yet after reheating on the following day, and still better after that.

Googling "reheating stew" I find warnings against it. Should I not be reheating this? Can anyone explain why it improves with each reheating? Is it the time in the refrigerator? I've tried adding an hour of low heat when I first make it, but that doesn't seem to help.

If I only reheat each night's dinner (instead of reheating it all each time), can I expect the last night to be as good? Is there any way to reach the ideal state - now achieved by multiple reheating - with less trouble?


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Personally I like it better the first night, but Italian grandmothers have a habit of telling their family (probably as a long tradition) that certain meals are better reheated - thus insuring that the family will happily eat leftovers. I think that possibly you have been trained by an Italian grandmother to believe that leftovers are better, and therefore they do taste better for you.

One thing you can do regarding safety is to cook or poach the chicken separately from the rest of the ingredients and combine them only on your plate. It is probably the sauce/gravy part of the dish that you think improves with reheating - it cannot help the chicken part. Then when you reheat the dish, you can steam the chicken separately from the rest of the dish before serving. I use this technique with shrimp because shrimp gets progressively worse when reheated.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 5:41PM
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I have to agree with Lars. I do not buy into the idea that leftovers taste as good or better the next day. Stew or Chicken Cacciatore served the next day is leftovers. I'm not saying that it might not still taste good, but for me nothing served the next day is as good as when it was first cooked.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 5:51PM
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I find that things like spaghetti sauce, beef stew, lamb stew, and chicken cacciatore all taste lots better after reheating. The flavors seem to penetrate the meat better and mellow and mature..
I think it's something to do with cooling and re warming. when I have been in a hurry for the mellowing, I have cooked the soup of stew or cabbage rolls and reheated in the same afternoon....works almost as well as over night in the refrig.
I think that everything just coalesces and flavors penetrate the meats and chunks of vegetables.....rather like what happens when you brine or marinate things. sort of the same thing that happens with fresh pickles or Rumtopf.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 6:20PM
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In particular, I think beef stew improves with reheating. Also pinto beans. The sauce thickens up w/ both and, with stew, I think all the different flavors blend together more after a day or two. (I've never made chicken cacciatore.) I'm sure it's a personal preference thing, though. The problem around my house is having any leftovers in the first place!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 6:30PM
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I cannot say about cacciatore, but I definitely think many things improve with age, certainly stews, spaghetti sauce, lemon cake, Italian beef, pot roast, just to name a few.

I always make enough of certain things for two meals now that it is just two of us every day, and it always seems better the second time! (Maybe because I didn't have to cook it, but still. I think it is smart to cook that way.)

Some things do not reheat, but many do. Maybe it is the denigrating word "leftovers" that ruins things for some people, but after a day or two of flavors melding together, I am sure many things improve. In fact, I
always make spaghetti sauce, pot roast, and Italian beef at least a day ahead because it tastes better that way! Would you consider doing that serving leftovers or "making ahead"?

I agree that shrimp does not reheat well, and neither do most fried foods. But I couldn't do without delicious leftovers!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 6:41PM
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Mmmm I love scalloped potatoes re-heated. Stew as well, tastes better.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 6:42PM
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Curries generally taste better on reheating as well. I'm with Linda on the "mellowing" theory.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 7:22PM
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I agree with you and some others, about tasting better.
Some people have money to waste food.

I was not brought like that.

The reason it may taste better, is because the first time it was so good,

that you could not wait to have more.
Good Reason ???

Besides that you are from Jersey and a Sagittarious.

I had to laugh when I read you Post.
Maybe it's like, they were " used cars " before,
now they are " previously owned autos "

If I had an extra piece of large Steak " Previously Cooked " I would at least make a Stew and
have it for a meal the next day.

Merry Christmas,

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 8:04PM
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Anything with tomato sauce is what tastes better to me. Maybe the acid in the tomatoes? But it certainly does taste better.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 10:18AM
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While some things don't reheat well,
There are many that DO taste better the 2nd time around.

Preparing the chicken and the rest of the ings. separately
Would defeat the whole purpose of the dish.
The time in the sauce is needed,
so the chicken can 'absorb' those wonderful flavors.
As someone else wrote,
It's kind of like marinating.

And I, too, was raised to not waste anything.
I have even found some rather innovative ways
To make a new dish from some fried foods!
I feel rather sorry for those without enough imagination
to be able to 're-do' a dish.

Daveinjersey, if you have been doing it like this,
and are enjoying it like this,
Then go for it.

As for reheating stew, what are the warnings against it?
Stew is something best made in large batches.
I can't imagine making it for one, or even two, people.

There shouldn't be any safety concern
As long as it is kept cold enough in the refrigerator,
And brought to a high enough temperature when reheated.

I didn't achieve the ripe old age I have reached
By not eating left overs!
Or "planned overs" as they are often called in my house!



    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 11:13AM
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My guess is that most or all of us were taught not to waste things. I've never cared for leftovers.

Which is why for the most part, I cook enough for one meal with a few exceptions. I will cook a large pot of pasta sauces , meat or with meatballs and freeze the extra for future meals. The same with chili. I also don't mind leftover soup for a day or two.

I love LEFTOVER roast chicken or turkey for hot or cold sandwiches. In fact tonight's dinner will be hot chicken sandwiches with homemade fries. Diner Food. I deliberately roasted an extra whole/double chicken breast last night for tonight's dinner.

Except for Pot Roasts, I usually cook small prime ribs or pork roasts that are just big enough for two so that there isn't any leftover waste.

So although I don't plan many meals around leftovers I also don't waste much either. It is all in the planning.

Everyone's taste is different.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 11:57AM
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I eat leftovers out of laziness mostly. I don't need to cook everyday anymore so I don't. There are some things that don't do well with a reheat, potatoes for one, even in a stew. The rest of the stew may be fine but the spuds suffer. Doesn't mean I won't eat the stew, just means I don't like them as well.

As for chicken cacciatore, I might have to make some now. This recipe looks good. I won't use thighs though. Don't like chicken thighs...

Chicken Cacciatore

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:15 minInactive Prep Time: -- Cook Time:40 min
4 servings


4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves


Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Here is a link that might be useful: Recipe link

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 12:12PM
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I just went to the reviews. It gets a 5 star overall rating. However, when I read through the first page of reviews, NOT ONE person made it as written! I didn't read further.

Ha. I guess it's a very forgiving recipe.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 12:28PM
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We like leftovers & meal plan around having extra. It's only rarely we cook just enough for one meal. Well, actually, that's not entirely true. What happens several times a week is like tonight...we'll cook the protein (chix tonight) and then poof sides & dessert. Or, last night we made posole & poofed blue cornmeal muffins. Froze the leftover posole for another time. So, I guess it's more a combination of cooking/poofing. But, it's not very often we cook an entire meal just to be eaten that one night. When we have breakfast for dinner that would be the case. Pasta, for instance, isn't worth the effort, to us, for just a single meal. We each only eat 1/2 to 1 cup after cooking with a few tablespoons of sauce so it's just a PITA to make 1/2 cup sauce. Tonight's meal is quick & easy 'cause DH wants his piano lesson late this afternoon after we're finished making cookies. Afterwards, he doesn't want to spend an hour plus fiddling with getting dinner on the table. We like to eat well but dislike a daily drill of meal prepration. It's easy for us because we both like leftovers often better than the first meal. Sometimes, we'll spend an afternoon cooking but none of it is eaten that night. It all gets divided up & put into the freezer. Then, mealtime is easy for a month, or so. Also, we eat from a food storage program & that makes some difference in how we cook.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Tricia :

My family would dis-own me, if I didn't have leftovers after Thanksgiving, especially the Stuffing.
Are cakes and pies thrown in the garbage a day or 2 after?
My German woman friend owned a Bakery and made a Stolen; for me, before she left for Fla.

She said to leave it in the entrance room for about 2 weeks, (in the cold)it will acquire a better taste.

Here is is a Chicken Cacciatore Stew I made about a year ago.
Used Fresh chopped tomatoes and added Vegatables to make it a Stew.
It was better 2 days later. Even the Potatoes !!!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 7:34PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Did a year improve it, Lou? :-)

Couldn't resist!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 7:44PM
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Thought I was safe and no one would pick up on the year ago thing. LOL !!!

But as I said before , It beez like that !!!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 8:00PM
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I was prowling around FoodTV's website a couple minutes ago & saw a short rib recipe on the homepage. Since we love short ribs, I went to look at this recipe. Looks good, perfect for our style of cooking. This statement included in the recipe made me think of this thread,

"Suggestion: Make the short ribs 1 day ahead of serving them to make it easy to skim the fat and to allow the flavors to fully develop."

If a recipe suggests making a day ahead to develop flavors...is it leftovers?

Chili verde is another dish I think benefits from an overnight blending of flavors.

I'm including a link to the recipe instead of C&P because it's long & I think most everybody is familar with foodtv.com.


Here is a link that might be useful: Rachael Ray's Zinfully Delicious Short Ribs & Short Rib Ragu with Drunken Pappardelle

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 12:21PM
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I dunno, I definately think most of the Italian type things I make taste better the second or even third day! My chili just gets better and better! Maybe it is the tomato base, or all the yummy flavors and ingredients in the mix, but I always enjoy pasta dishes, minestrones, chilis, cacciatore, lasagnes, etc., much more the second day. I love leftovers, also because not only do they taste good, but less work making dinner on the night that they are served.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 4:15PM
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