Pollo alla Cacciatora
Chicken and tomatoes is a combination that I have never found appetizing, there is just something unholy about it. That is, cooked tomatoes with chicken, fine on a salad and fine in a sammy. The two words chicken parmigiana send shivers up my spine, chicken with pasta has the same affect on me. This comes in part from my Italian education in the world of food, which is why I am surprised that chicken cacciatore is an actual thing, found in my Naples at Table cookbook. I thought, like its parmigiana counterpart that it was an invention that came off of Mulberry Street.
Even more surprising was that my husband suggested I make it. We have an abundance of winter tomatoes from our 3 piennoli (winter tomato cluster). A friend of ours sent them to us from Napoli, and since I am the main cook in this house, and though an honorary Napoletana, I am not actually from Naples and sometimes find myself at a loss as to what to do with them.
As it probably won’t surprise most of you, it was delicious, chicken falling off of the bone and a sweet sauce that turned a nice pink by the time it was all done.
Pollo alla Cacciatora
adapted from Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 3- to 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and each breat cut in half crosswise)
- 1 medium onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced, or 3 large garlic, smashed
- 2 4- to 5-inch sprigs rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¾ tsp salt
- Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
- 2 cups canned plum tomatoes, well drained and coarsely chopped (we used tomatoes from our piennolo, which are Neapolitan winter tomatoes)
In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan with cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and when it it hot, brown the chicken on the skin side first, then the underside. Do not crowd the pan. Brown the chicken in batches if necessary, setting aside the browned chicken on a plate until the rest is done.
When the last few pieces of chicken are almost browned and still in the pan, add the onion and rosemary sprigs (or dried rosemary) and sauté until the onion is tender.
Arrange all the browned chicken in the pan, skin side up, and add the white wine. Season with salt and hot red pepper flakes, then let the wine cook until it has almost entirely evaporated, just a couple of minutes. While it is reducing, turn the chicken in the liquid once or twice, but leave it skin side up at the end.
Add the tomatoes. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and let cook at a gentle simmer, without turning, for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter, increase the heat the high, and let the sauce reduce for about 2 minutes. In the end, the sauce will be a creamy pink (rosé, Neapolitans say).
Pour the sauce over the chicken or ise it to dress pasta (reserving some for the chicken) and serve immediately.
Two Years Ago: Relais Histò
Three Years Ago: Herb Crusted Pork Loin