Smart Chicken Cacciatore Appetizers With Marinara Dipping Sauce

Why not surprise your holiday guests with a different twist on an old favorite! Most folks think Chicken Cacciatore can only be served as a main dish, but it makes for a wonderful appetizer, especially when using our favorite Smart Chicken tenders. By adding a few ingredients to a jar of Marinara Sauce, you can have a delicious appetizer in a matter of minutes.

2 pounds of Smart Chicken tenders, cut into small chunks*

Flour, for dredging, approximately 1 cup

Salt and freshly cracked pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more if needed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 - 1/2 cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon dried fennel

1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning

Fresh basil, minced

1 26-ounce jar Marinara Sauce, your choice

Splash of red wine, optional, your choice

Salt and pepper, if needed

-Place flour, salt and pepper in a zip-lock bag. Add cubed Smart Chicken tenders. Shake bag and coat Smart Chicken lightly.

-In a large, heavy saute' or cast iron skillet, coat bottom of pan with olive oil and turn on heat to medium-high. Working in batches, add the Smart Chicken tenders and saute' just until brown. Transfer the Smart Chicken tenders to a serving plate. Cover with foil and set aside.

-In a medium-size skillet, saute' garlic, fennel, onion and Italian seasoning. Saute' until garlic and onion are translucent, being very careful not to burn. Add jar of marinara sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer. If using, add a splash of red wine and fresh basil and continue simmering for about five minutes. Taste sauce to see if additional salt and pepper is needed. If necessary, continue cooking the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Place enhanced Marinara Sauce in bowl and serve alongside Smart Chicken Cacciatore appetizers.

Note: Have toothpicks nearby for ease in serving.

Note: You can keep the Marinara Sauce heated in a small crock pot.