Oh, the title of this post has given me a headache, what to call it.
I am bold and brazen enough to post about a heavyweight Italian classic like Pollo alla cacciatora -chicken hunters style- but more importantly am I resilient enough withstand the mummers of quiet disapproval or chorus of you don’t do it like that, you do it like this or mia mamma fa cosi. Maybe should I just chicken out and call it chicken cooked with onion, tomato and rosemary.
No, today I am bold and brazen, half a bottle of Barbareso courage is making things quite wonderfully uninhibited, well almost uninhibited, hence the kind of.
From what I understand – and I have a whole other language to deal with here which still leaves me in a frazzle – cooking alla cacciatora generally speaking involves frying joints of usually rabbit or chicken until they are golden and starting to crisp and then uniting them with aromatic additions – vegetables, herbs, olives, wine, sometimes some vinegar. Everything is then cooked together producing a dish of moist but firm and flavoursome meat with a rich, concentrated sauce.
So with all that in mind, this is my version. It is an almighty muddle of various recipes and platefuls eaten seasoned with endless bits and pieces of advice I have willingly adopted and experimented with over the last four years in Rome. I think it just about meets the broad criteria of Pollo alla cacciatora and more importantly it is utterly simple and certainly delicious.
A good chicken – jointed, a large red onion, garlic, some good tinned plum tomatoes or passata, rosemary, dry white wine, salt and pepper are all you need – oh and a frying pan and a big, heavy, robust pan in which you can simmer everything together gloriously.
The initial frying of the joints is fundamental, carefully pat them dry first with kitchen towel. Then in your large frying pan heat a good inch of good olive oil , fry the joints in small batches, first skin side down before turning, until they are beautifully golden and just a little crispy.
You set your crispy joints aside while you gently soften your onion in your big robust pan. Once the onion is soft and translucent you add the garlic, rosemary and the chicken joints, salt and a few good grinds of pepper. Next you glug in the wine and enjoy the wonderful alcoholic sizzle – maybe one of my favorite cooking moments. Pour in the tomatoes, stir and allow to bubble and blop blop and simmer happily for about 45 minutes. Done.
I don’t think this really needs anything other than some good bread to mop up the rich, dense sauce, potatoes of the mashed kind could work well.
By the way Rome was beautiful today cold cold but clear and glorious, I walked up to Gianicolo and gasped slightly at my adopted city – that plane ticket was one of the best things I ever bought.
A kind of Pollo alla Cacciatora
- 1.5kg chicken jointed into 8 pieces
- About 8tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a nice sprig of fresh rosemary gently bruised with a heavy knife handle.
- 6 tbsp dry white wine
- 400g tinned plum tomatoes or passata
Wash the chicken joints and then carefully pat them very dry..
In a large heavy frying pan warm 4tbsp of oil. Once it is hot add about half the joints, skin side down to start. Fry them until they are golden and slightly crisp, turn and fry the other side. Set the cooked joints aside on a warm plate and season with salt and black pepper and then fry the other half of the joints in the same way.
In your large heavy pan warm the other 4tbsp of oil and add the sliced onion. saute the onion until soft, translucent and golden. Add the slivers of garlic and rosemary and stir. Add the chicken joints.
Glug in the wine wine and move the joints around gently while the wine sizzles away for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and bring the pan to a happy simmer and cover the pan with the lid askew. Allow to gently bubble away for about 45 minutes stirring every so often and adding a little more water if you feel the need.