Cacciatora means hunter’s style, and since there has always been a hunter in nearly every Italian household, every Italian cook prepares a dish with a claim to that description. Making generous allowances for the uncounted permutations in the dishes that go by the cacciatora name, what they generally consist of is a chicken or rabbit fricassee with tomato, onion, and other vegetables. And that is exactly what this is. – Marcella Hazan
- A 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Flour, spread on a plate
- Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
- ⅓ cup onion sliced very thin
- ⅔ cup dry white wine
- 1 sweet yellow or red bell pepper, seeds and core removed and cut into thin julienne strips
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin disks
- ½ stalk celery sliced thin crosswise
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped very fine
- ⅔ cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped coarse, with their juice
- Wash the chicken in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with cloth or paper towels.
- Choose a sauté pan that can subsequently accommodate all the chicken pieces withoutcrowding them. Put in the oil and turn the heat on to medium high. When the oil is hot, turn the chicken in the flour, coat the pieces on all sides, shake off excess flour, and slip them into the pan, skin side down. Brown that side well, then turn them and brown the other side. Transfer them to awarm plate, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat back on to medium high, put in the sliced onion, and cook the onion until it has become colored a deep gold. Add the wine. Let it simmer briskly for about 30 seconds while using a wooden spoon to scrape loose the browning residues on the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan, except for the breasts, which cook faster and will go in later. Add the bell pepper, carrot, celery, garlic, and the chopped tomatoes with their iuice. Adjust heat to cook at a slow simmer, and put a lid on the pan to cover tightly. After 40 minutes add the breast and continue cooking at least 10 minutes more until the chicken thighs feel very tender when prodded with a fork, and the meat comes easily off the bone. Turn and baste the chicken pieces from time to time while they are cooking.
- When the chicken is done, transfer it to a warm serving platter, using a slotted spoon or spatula. If the contents of the pan are on the thin, watery side, turn the heat up to high under the uncovered pan, and reduce them to an appealing density. Pour the contents of the pan over the chicken and serve at once.
Ahead-of-time note – The dish can be cooked through to the end up to a day in advance. Let the chicken cool completely in the pan juices before refrigerating. Reheat in a covered pan at a slow simmer, turning the chicken pieces until they are warmed all the way through.