Serves 4 to 6
This classic dish is believed to have been developed in central Italy during the renaissance. Caccitore means “Hunters Style.” It is definitely a country dish, originating in the kitchens of farm families who grew their own poultry or found it in field or forest. An elderly fowl was made tender by first browning in olive oil, then simmering until tender in a sauce of onions, mushrooms and red wine. Add a few herbs from the cottage garden and you have a dish fit for a king yet affordable in any country kitchen. Made with today’s tender market chickens, it might be argued that it won’t have the flavor of venerable hen or game cock, but then, you don’t have to stew it for hours.
1 large chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 to 3 slices of bacon, diced, or 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 onios, diced
8 to 10 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
2 cups of sliced mushrooms (if they are quite small, quarter or half them instead of slicing)
2 cups water or chicken stock
About ½ cup inexpensive full bodied, red wine (Chianti is perfect)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basal
Salt and coarse fresh ground black pepper to taste
Rinse the chicken in cold running water, wipe dry and set aside. In a large heavy skillet, gently sauté the bacon to render its fat. (you may use olive oil instead) Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Over a moderate heat, fry the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet and set aside with the bacon, if used. Add the onion and garlic and sauté gently until they are golden and translucent but not really brown. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté the mixture until the mushrooms are hot through. Mushrooms are very thirsty. You may need to add a few drops of olive oil.
Return the chicken and the bacon to the skillet. Add the water or stock and wine . Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and continue to cook until the chicken is quite tender, about thirty minutes. Remove the lid, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley and basal. Cover again and continue to simmer for about five minutes. Serve with pasta or rice and a crisp salad.