This Italian hunter-style chicken recipe is popular throughout Italy, though it is particularly beloved in Toscana, where mushrooms and rosemary are two favored ingredients.
With its stew-like sauce, this dish is perfect for the transition from winter to spring, when chickens head out to pasture and can feed freely on the first of fresh grasses and clover.
Pollo alla Cacciatora (Hunter-Style Chicken Recipe)
- 8 bone-in chicken thighs
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- 2-3 whole garlic cloves
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 16 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup white wine
- 16 ounces chicken stock
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Chopped parsley, to garnish
Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper.
In a wide braising pan, heat the olive oil until a piece of chicken dipped in the oil sizzles. Add as many pieces of chicken to the pan as will fit without touching, skin side down.
NOTES: do not crowd chicken. If the pan is not wide enough to fit all of the chicken, brown it in batches.
Once browned, remove all chicken from the skillet. Leave the remaining oil and any drippings from the chicken, and add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic directly to the same pan. Sauté until soft and translucent.
Add the bay leaves, rosemary, cremini mushrooms, and capers, and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and oregano.
Add the red wine vinegar and white wine. Stir for two minutes, until it reduces by about half.
Add the chicken stock and tomatoes to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Tuck the chicken pieces back into the pan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Before serving, remove the garlic (or don’t!). Serve chicken pieces over a bed of polenta with a generous helping of sauce on top. Garnish with chopped parsley.
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