Chicken Cacciatore Hunter Style
(Pollo alla Cacciatora)
Italian Recipe

Meaning “hunter” in Italian, cacciatore is a rustic dish bursting with rich flavor. Serve over noodles and enjoy with the rest of that red wine—you’ll only need a cup for this recipe.

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Serves 4
 3-1/2  pounds chicken, cut into 4 thighs and 4 legs*
 ~ salt
 ~ black pepper
 1/2  cup flour, for dredging
 ~3  tablespoons olive oil
 2  whole bay leaves
 8  ounces sliced mushrooms**
 4  ounces thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced
 1  medium onion, minced
 1  tablespoon crushed garlic
 1 carrot, finely chopped
 1  red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
 1  stalk celery, finely chopped
 1/2  cup chicken broth
 1  14-ounce can crushed tomatoes***
 1  cup drinking-quality red wine****
 1-1/2  teaspoons rosemary leaves, finely chopped
 1/8  teaspoon sugar
 ~  teaspoon salt
 ~  teaspoon black pepper
 ~  optional  chopped Italian parsley for garnish

*Bone-in, dark chicken meat like thighs and legs give the best flavor. Chicken breasts can be substituted if preferred.
**Use supermarket white buttons or the small brown portabella (crimini) mushrooms.
***Substitute one 15-ounce can of tomato sauce is preferred.
****Northern Italians use red wine in this dish while those in the south prefer white wine. In San Francisco, my wine of choice is red.

  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

NOTE: This is the secret to great meat dishes like cacciatore. The flavor isn’t restricted to the sauce but goes straight through to the center of each bite.

  1. Bring chicken to room temperature and dredge with flour.
  2. Pour the oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat until sizzling.
  3. Add the bay leaves and infuse the oil for one minute.
  4. Add the chicken and cook until golden. Remove and set aside.
  5. Sauté the mushroom. Set aside.
  6. Stir in the pancetta and fry until crisp.
  7. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds, adjusting the heat to prevent burning.
  8. Add 1–2 tablespoons of oil and heat to a sizzle. Toss in the carrots, bell peppers and celery. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes.
  9. Slowly add the chicken broth, scraping all of the bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan.
  10. Add the tomatoes and wine, stirring well.
  11. Add the browned chicken, spooning sauce over the pieces. Bring to a lively simmer.
  12. Cover and adjust the heat to reach a low simmer. Cook for 60 minutes.
  13. Add the chopped Rosemary and sugar. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  14. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  15. Garnish with parsley and serve.

NOTE: I spread hot noodles over a large platter and top them with the cacciatore. The parsley garnish makes for a deliciously beautiful presentation.

Preparation Time: 
Under 90 minutes, plus 8+ hours refrigeration