Pollo alla Cacciatora is an Italian classic. It means chicken prepared in the style of the hunter’s wife (traditional recipes usually do not assume that the wife would hunt herself), which is chicken stewed in tomatoes with herbs, wine, and the holy trinity of carrot, celery, and onion. As with all traditional recipes there are many slight variations. In this case, I used boneless and chicken thighs. For a more traditional version with more flavor (but also more fat and a longer cooking time), you could use bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs or chicken legs. Whatever you do, do not use chicken breast. Other variations could be the addition of bell peppers or mushrooms, using white wine instead of red, using different herbs. You could even leave out the tomato, although then you’d have to specify you are making “cacciatora in bianco” (bianco = white), as otherwise the use of tomatoes would be implied.
For 2 servings
250 grams (.6 lb) boneless skinless chicken thighs
250 ml (1 cup) pureed tomatoes from a can
1 stick celery, minced (about 50 grams)
1/2 onion, minced (about 50 grams)
1 small carrot, minced (about 50 grams)
125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine, preferably the same wine that you will drink with the dish
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh sage
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
Brown the chicken in a casserole in olive oil.
When the chicken is golden brown on all sides…
…add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, sage, and rosemary. Stir until the vegetables start to color, about 5 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with 125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine.
Scrape with a wooden spatula to get any browned bits into the sauce.
Bring to a boil and reduce the wine by half.
Add 250 ml (1 cup) of pureed tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, stirring.
Cover partially and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir now and then, and turn over the chicken when you do.
Remove the sage and rosemary, and add most of the parsley. Stir to incorporate.
Serve on preheated plates with mashed potatoes.
This is nice with a medium bodied Italian red based on sangiovese, such as a Chianti Classico. There are also full bodied Chiantis, so pick one that is a lighter style.
Sangiovese works well with the acidity of the tomatoes. Since chicken is white meat, a full bodied red would overpower it.
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