There are probably countless variations of this humble recipe for chicken, but this is one that never ceases to bring a smile to my face. Many years ago I was very lucky to be employed by a couple who were real foodies, before it was cool to be involved with food and cooking. They frequently invited the staff to their home for dinners which they had spent hours preparing and I have great memories of eating course after course and enjoying every moment.
As much as I savored these meals, what I appreciated even more was their ability to recognize that I was a person who was passionate about food. Incredible as it seems to me now, they decided to send me to cooking school. Of course they had a reason behind their generous offer (they wanted me to do food demonstrations in their kitchenware shops) but it didn’t matter why, I was thrilled to be chosen!
This recipe for Chicken Cacciatore came from those classes. As I prepared it tonight, I was immediately transported back to the small classroom where Lynne Rossetto Kasper (now a well known chef, author and radio personality) conducted the class. This recipe was chosen to be my first demonstration and I have memories of preparing it over and over as I awaited my debut. It’s as good today as it was back then and a great recipe to have under your belt.
I dedicate this post to Susan and Gerry Ehrlich who I give credit to starting me on my way to a life of good times in the kitchen and at the table.
Pollo Alla Cacciatore
1 chicken (3 lb.), cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped
Pinch fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons dry porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water for 20 minutes, then drained
1-1/2 cups tomatoes
1/4 cup oil cured black olives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Brown chicken over medium-high heat and set aside (be sure not to crowd the pan-do in batches if needed). Lower heat to medium. saute onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in wine and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except chicken), breaking up tomatoes with the back of a spoon and bring to a simmer. Add chicken and lower heat to a very gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pan and cook for 45 minutes. Serve with pasta or polenta and some good crusty bread to sop up all the delicious juices! Serves: 4