Chicken Cacciatore, or ‘chicken, hunter style’ is a staple of Italian cooking. Marcella Hanza says this because ‘there has always been a hunter in nearly every Italian household’. That being, this dish is totally down to the cook’s interpretation and opens it to many variations, which is the type of cooking I love! I have made mine with chicken thighs, leaving the skin on for a traditional, rustic feel. I started the cooking process with a traditional soffritto and baked for richness. I have included vegetables, mushrooms, olives and plenty of white wine to complete the dish. I have no doubt that cacciatore will become a favourite after the first time you make it, it’s so easy and versatile, just throw in whatever you have left in the cupboard. Serve with potatoes, polenta, salad or rice, as I have done.
6 good quality chicken thighs, dusted with seasoned flour
1 small carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 white onion, diced
2/3 garlic cloves, minced
200g wild mushrooms
A bunch of fresh thyme
2 handfuls of pitted green olives
250ml good quality chicken stock
1 large glass of dry white wine
2 tbsp tomato puree
Olive oil for the pan
Turn the oven on to 180 degrees.
Start by dusting the chicken thighs with seasoned flour. Heat a little oil in the casserole dish and place in the chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook until the skin is browned, this should take a few minutes on a medium to high heat. You may need to do this in batches. Once the skin is brown, take the chicken out and put to one side.
Add a little more oil to the dish and throw in the soffritto of celery, carrot and onion. Cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic, mushrooms and thyme. Fry until the vegetables start to colour and then pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to displace the bits that have stuck. Simmer until the liquid has reduced.
Now add the stock, tomato puree and olives, stirring to combine the mixture. Then decant the chicken back into the dish. Bring to a simmer, cover with the lid and put the dish straight into the hot oven.
Cook for 45 minutes, then check. Remove the lid and bake for a further 15/20 minutes to crisp up the chicken skin and add a richness to the flavour.
Serve immediately and enjoy!