Chicken Cacciatore or Hunter’s Chicken is a simple dish with hundreds of variations.
The point is that it is the sort of dish that a hunter might prepare or might be prepared for a hunter after a day of hard hunting.
Hunter’s Chicken is the sort of dish where you might find coarsely chopped ingredients, giving it a sort of lovely rustic flair, and perhaps makes it a little easier to prepare in a hurry.
While most recipes utilize chicken (duh), chopped onions, garlic and rosemary, there are so many variations that you can look in your fridge or pantry and choose whatever looks good.
Many, but not all have chopped tomatoes as well.
We looked in a number of cookbooks, and found a wide range of recipes. Some use tomatoes, a few do not.
Some use white wine, some red wine and some none. Some seem a great deal fancier than others.
In Gene Leone’s 1966 cookbook based on his restaurant (Mother Leone’s), and with an introduction by President Eisenhower, the sauce includes finely chopped chicken livers and gizzards and no wine.
Pearl’s Chicken Cacciatora from Molly O’Neil’s New York Cookbook uses butter, green peppers red wine, celery seed and oregano.
Margaret and Franco Romagnoli’s recipe use garlic, rosemary wine vinegar and white wine and no tomatoes.
Mario Batali’s Chicken Hunter’s Style adds Portobello mushroom white wine, celery ribs and tomato sauce.
And there are any number of pretty similar recipes on the standard food sites.
We chose to make a somewhat simpler version of Gene Leone’s recipe (omitting the chicken livers since we didn’t have any on hand) but including a sweet red pepper.
Overall, this probably took 40 minutes to make, including half an hour of cooking time.
While our recipe does not add wine, a half cup of dry white wine would be OK, as long as it doesn’t add to the sourness of the tomatoes. We rather think that red wine turns the dish into a coq au vin and decided to steer away from red.
We chose to serve it with brown rice, but any spaghetti or other pasta would work equally well.
• 1 large frying chicken or 4 legs and thighs
• 2 Tb olive oil
• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 oz bacon or pancetta
• 1 large onion, diced
• 2 mashed garlic cloves
• 1 tsp fresh rosemary
• 10 sprigs parsley
• Salt and pepper
• 1 22-oz can peeled plum tomatoes
• 1 Tb tomato paste (or ketchup)
1. Cut up the chicken and remove as much skin as you can.
2. Heat the olive oil, bacon and butter and add the diced onion. Cook until softened and slightly browned.
3. Chop the garlic, rosemary and parsley together and add to the pan.
4. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and brown.
5. Add perhaps 2/3 of the can of tomatoes, cutting them coarsely with a spatula as you stir them in.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add the tomato paste or ketchup.
8. Cook covered for about 30 minutes. Try not to overcook the chicken.
9. Serve over pasta or rice.
Enjoy this lovely meal with a glass of white wine. You can see a complete set of pictures here.