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 recipe is below.
For families who lived on farms or elsewhere in the country, dinner was often a hare, pheasant or other animal shot in the surrounding woods.
The game that the hunter brought home that day (father, son, farm hand) was braised in olive oil with garden vegetables.
Remember, back in the day before refrigeration, in most homes kitchens weren’t stocked with more fresh food than could be eaten in the short-term.
The wild mushrooms were foraged in the forest by the hunter, so at least he didn’t come home totally empty-handed.
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 hunter who came home without game would pick a chicken from the yard. The chicken was prepared the same as the hare.
The dish has its roots in in central Italy in the Renaissance and has many variations, both there and throughout the country.
Ingredients For 4-6 Servings
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.
*Use wild mushrooms if possible. You can also use dried wild mushrooms, reconstituted.
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