Chicken Cacciatore
Pollo alla Cacciatora

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Chicken Cacciatore
Pollo alla Cacciatora
cookbook: Lidia's Italy in America
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serves: 6

A dish with roots back to the Renaissance when people hunted for food and only the wealthy could enjoy chicken, there are many variations, but most versions include tomatoes and mushrooms. This dish is good made with a whole chicken, but I prefer it made with drum sticks and thighs only. I am aware however that most families have mainly white meat eaters. Anyway you choose to make it, it is an exemplary Italian American dish that can be made well in advance. It will reheat and remain moist. It is great with polenta or some pasta, but I love it with a chunk of crusty semolina bread.


¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 10 pieces)
1 (4 1/2 to 5 pound) chicken, cut in 14 pieces
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
vegetable oil, for browning the chicken
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in 1/8ths, attached at the root end
3 stalks celery , sliced in 1/2-inch pieces on the bias
1 cup dry white wine
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (cremini, button, shitake)
3 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, cut in 1/2-inch strips
2 teaspoons dried oregano


1. Put porcini in a spouted measuring cup and add 1 cup hot water. Let soak while you brown the chicken. Season chicken all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken all over in batches, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate. Discard vegetable oil.

2. Strain porcini, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze excess liquid from the mushrooms back into the soaking liquid and finely chop the mushrooms. Over medium-high heat, add olive oil to pot. When the oil is hot, add the onions and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and celery are caramelized on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pot and pour in the white wine. Drop in the rosemary. Boil until wine is reduced by half, then add the chopped porcini and the soaking liquid, leaving any gritty residue from the soaking liquid in the cup. Once the liquid returns to a boil, add the tomatoes and rinse out the can with 1 cup hot water and add that as well. Bring to a boil and simmer to let the sauce come together, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms, bell peppers, oregano and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables have begun to soften, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until sauce has reduced and chicken is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes more.

** Chicken gets cup up as follows: 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, back in 2 pieces, breasts in 3 pieces each.

This recipe is from Lidia’s newest book, Lidia’s Italy in America, which was released in October.

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