October 15th is National Chicken Cacciatore Day. Chicken cacciatore (cah-cha-toe-ray) is Italian country fare. Cacciatore means hunter, so the dish is “hunter-style” (in Italian, pollo alla cacciatora).
The game that the hunter brought home was braised in olive oil with garden vegetables—a light tomato sauce with garlic, herbs, onions and bell peppers, plus wild mushrooms and a bit of wine (white wine in the north, red wine in the south).
The family’s chickens got the same treatment as game.
Chicken cacciatore has been called a “hunter’s solace,” with poultry from the yard or market replacing the pheasant or hare that got away. The wild mushrooms were foraged in the forest by the hunter, so he didn’t come home empty-handed.
The dish has its roots in in central Italy in the Renaissance, and has many variations, both there and throughout the country. One of the more unusual is salamino cacciatore, made with a small salame.
Remember, back in the day, in most homes there wasn’t a kitchen stocked with more food than could be eaten short-term, or a market down the street loaded with options. If you had it, or found it, you used it.
This recipe serves 6.
CHICKEN CACCIATORE RECIPE
1. SEASON. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper and flour.
2. BROWN. Brown the chicken in olive oil. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms. Stir until onion turns yellow.
3. COMBINE. Return the chicken to the pan. Add wine or sherry. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove garlic. Add tomato paste.
4. ADD. Add crushed tomatoes and herbs. Simmer for 45 minutes. If the sauce is to thick, thin with chicken broth, tomato juice or water.
Serve atop noodles or rice.
Find more of our favorite chicken recipes.
*Use wild mushrooms if possible. You can also use dried wild mushrooms, reconstituted.
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