Americans may know this dish as cacciatore (hunter's style), but it's really cacciatora, named in honor of the hunter's wife—who, in parts of northern Italy, traditionally cooked it on the eve of the hunt as fuel for the chase.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 3-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup dry white wine
1 28-oz. can peeled whole Italian plum tomatoes,
chopped, juice reserved
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup strong chicken stock
1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, continuing to stir, for about 2 minutes more. Push onions to sides of pan, then add chicken and fry, turning pieces several times to brown evenly, about 4 minutes per side.
2. Add wine and cook until it evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, with their juice, to chicken. Stir in bay leaf, rosemary, and parsley (reserving 1 tbsp. or so for garnish) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, adding chicken stock gradually as tomato juice evaporates, for 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf and garnish with reserved parsley. Serve with steamed potatoes or white rice.
In 21st-century America, chicken is a commonplace, a fast-food staple, an all-purpose (and inoffensive) form of protein that comes in many forms-even as sausage or "burger" meat. In the Italian countryside of an earlier time, in contrast, this barnyard bird was a creature of real significance-far too valuable (for its eggs) to end up on the table on an average night. Even in relatively prosperous households, chicken might be on the menu only once a week, usually for Sunday supper. Among poorer families, a fowl might be slaughtered only a few times a year, for consumption on Christmas or other big holidays or as the centerpiece at wedding or anniversary banquets. That's probably why there are comparatively few chicken recipes in Italian cuisine. When chicken was cooked, it was most often roasted whole, the leftover bones used to flavor soups and the scraps ground up for pasta sauce or pasta filling.
Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian
Savoring the Recipes and Traditions of the World's Favorite Cuisine
By the editors of Saveur Magazine
Chronicle Books, 2001
9-5/8 x 10 in; 320 pp
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created May 2002
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