Hunters chicken or pollo cacciatore is a common Italian dish with as many recipes as there are chefs. We looked at a bunch of them and settled on a simple version of a recipe suggested by Mario Batali in his book Molto Italiano.
This is really a braise of chicken in wine, stock and tomatoes, and the whole thing takes about an hour, with only about 10 minute active preparation time, and the result has a spectacular flavor. We prefer using legs and thighs for a richer dish.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 branch of rosemary, trimmed and minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- One whole chicken, or 4 legs and thighs
- 2 large yellow onions, coarsely diced
- 8 oz mushrooms, button or Portobello, sliced
- 4 oz bacon or pancetta, cut into thin dice
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 1 22 oz can plum tomatoes with juice or puree
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Pinch of sugar
- Pinch of hot pepper flakes
- Crush the garlic under a knife blade and pick out the peel, or peel and put through a garlic press.
- Add the garlic and rosemary leaves, salt and pepper to a mortar and grind them together.
- Remove the skin from the chicken and rub with the garlic paste. Allow to stand for 30-60 minutes, refrigerated if it is for more than 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a high sided frying pan and sear the chicken pieces a few at time. Remove to a plate, and keep warm.
- Add the bacon and sauté in the pan oil, and then add the celery, onions and mushrooms and cook until the bacon has rendered its fat.
- Add the as much of the tomatoes that will fit, wine, stock, sugar and pepper flakes and cook the tomatoes, breaking them up in the pan with your spatula.
- Add the chicken, and cook covered for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and let the sauce cook down for up to 20 minutes more.
- Put the chicken pieces on a platter, spoon sauce over them and serve.
- Serve extra sauce in another bowl if you have some left.
Serve with noodles or spaghetti.