It’s all too easy to conjure up romantic images about this style of cooking – Cacciatore – “Hunter’s Style“.
A few friends, close relatives, maybe, up in the mountains, deep in a forest, on a weekend hunting trip, taking a few provisions with them – a little oil, a few dried herbs, a couple of bottles of wine, and then retiring to a log cabin at the end of a successful day to put together a simple meal based on the day’s catch and a few foraged wild mushrooms.
We’ve done the Swedish equivalent many times, grilling freshly caught fish over hot coals on the cliff in front of our summer house overlooking the sea, on one of Roxette’s never-ending summer evenings. It’s wonderful beyond words, a temporary trip back to a simpler time.
Right, before I go completely Baltic on you and start wistfully reminiscing about archipelago island-hopping trips on steamboats, let’s get back to Italy!
This dish represents everything I find appealing about Italian cooking.
Simple, unpretentious, yet packed with taste. Great stuff.
- 1 kg of chicken pieces, skin left on
- about 350g of mushrooms, wiped clean and thickly sliced
- 4 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 500g tetra-pack chopped tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- smoked Spanish paprika
- olive oil
- Saké – see Notes
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Dust with smoked Spanish paprika.
- Heat about 4 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the chicken pieces on both sides until golden. Fry them in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once browned to your satisfaction, remove the chicken pieces from the pan, and set aside.
- With the pan still on the heat, add about 1/3 of a cup of Saké to the pan to de-glaze it – stir and scrape vigorously to dissolve the built up fond in the pan. Let the Saké reduce in volume somewhat. Set the pan aside.
- Heat about 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Stir fry the spring onions and garlic for about 2 minutes or so.
- Add the dried oregano, dried thyme, and the dried rosemary to the pan. Stir well, and continue to stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir fry until the mushrooms have lost their excess moisture, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, rinsing out the container with a little water to ensure you get all that tomatoey goodness into the pan. Add the bay leaves and the Saké / chicken fond mixture, and bring up to a low simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken pieces to the pan. Stir well, cover, and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
- After the 30 minute mark, turn the chicken over in the sauce, cover, and simmer once again for 20 minutes.
- Remove the lid, and simmer for a final 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken up slightly.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Serve. On this occasion we served the chicken with nothing more complicated or fancy than steamed broccoli.
- Here I used Saké to de-glaze the frying pan, simply because it’s what I had in at the time. You could use either red wine or white wine in its place. Having said that, if your own Paleo preferences mean you want to avoid using wine completely, then simply replace it with a good quality Paleo friendly stock.