Pollo alla cacciatora, the middle of the end

For the second course of our massive boozy goodbye party, I’ve decided to go for a classic. There’s not much to write about it this time. Normally I’d choose a recipe that had come up in the past week somehow, but this time I actually deliberately looked for a recipe with a bunch of booze in it to fit the theme of the goodbye party dinner, which makes for a brief story.

It would have been fun to go for a recipe with as much booze as I could possibly get in there, you know, see if you can actually get drunk on food. I decided against it on account of those recipes often being a bit on the experimental side. I didn’t want to end on something weird and unknown like pork with rum and pineapple. Instead I wanted to do something that I know already and that I was sure would come out looking appetising. So we’re going for pollo alla cacciatora.

Not to be confused with coq au vin or chicken chasseur, this is a classic from Tuscany and it’s as easy as it is delicious. As usual, when the French put chicken in wine, they go the full fucking monty and add a million other things as well, plus you have to let it soak, rest and simmer for quite a bit. The Italians, as they do, just keep it as simple as they possibly can, which is great because it makes this dish affordable for paupers like me, and it keeps the threshold for actually making it low. It goes with the Holy Trinity of Italian cooking, i.e. celery, carrot and onion (plus, of course, garlic – the Mother Mary of Italian cooking), wine and tomatoes, and that’s basically it. Try some over the weekend!

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For 4, use:

  • 1 whole chicken. I couldn’t be bothered with a whole chicken because I don’t have a cleaver. I just got legs. You can get any part of a chicken as long as it has bone.
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 leg of celery
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5 peeled tomatoes (you can peel them yourself or use the tinned ones, it’s up to you, both work, but if you peel them yourself, do that before anything else)
  • some rosemary (best to use whole sprigs, if you have them – easier to fish out)
  • WINE! As this is a dish from Tuscany, I went for Chianti. Also because it was on sale. A full-bodied red is what you’re after, not too sweet.
  • some salt, pepper, and olive oil

First take care of your chicken. If you bought a whole one, chop it up into workable pieces. If you’re that kind of person, wash it and dry it. Either way prepare it for its delicious olive oil meeting. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan with heavy bottom or otherwise one of those creuset-like stew pot things. Easy on the oil, the chicken releases quite a lot of fat.

Now you just want to brown it on the outside, which will take about ten minutes (check on the state of the chicken and flip them when necessary!). Just enough time to finely chop your onion, celery and carrot, and to crush your garlic. When the chicken is nice and tanned, chuck in the vegetables. Stir them around and leave them to soften up in the pan for a bit. Five minutes or so, then add the wine (about a glass full), simmer for two minutes on low heat. Then add the tomatoes (roughly chopped), and the rosemary, salt and pepper it up, and again, simmer for two minutes. Now give it a last stir, bring to an easy simmer and leave it by itself, with a lid on top. Check on it occasionally and stir if you have to. If it gets dry (although it shouldn’t and probably won’t) you can add some water or chicken stock.

Now all you really need to do is wait for the chicken to be done – depending on the size of your chicken and in what pieces your chicken is cut, this will take from half an hour to about an hour. Once it’s cooked, if you want to condense the sauce a little bit, leave it for another 10 minutes or so without the lid on, give it a last good stir, taste for salt and pepper, take out the rosemary, and serve up!

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About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
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