This weekend, the grey skies sent down a smattering of tiny snowflakes that spiraled to earth and melted immediately. Not much of a snowfall, but the message was clear: winter's on the way.
Fortunately, I've just the thing to stave off the chills. Hunter-style chicken (pollo alla cacciatora) is an Italian classic. In this version (more stew-like than many variations), fresh whole chicken parts are first marinated in herbs and wine, then cooked long and slow in a rich tomato and wine sauce. Worth sitting through winter for, this. Serve with a few fat slices of buttered crusty bread and a crisp salad to balance the richness of the stew (and it is rich).
Hunter's Chicken (Pollo alla cacciatora) (adapted from Jamie's Italy)
- 4-6 pieces of free range chicken on the bone
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
- 200ml dry red wine
- 1 tsp flour
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp anchovy paste
- ½ Cup olives (green, black or a mixture)
- 1 28 oz tin of tomatoes, drained and broken up with a spoon
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed clove of garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, or preferably overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Remove the chicken from the bowl and reserve the marinade. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towel and dust the with flour and shake off any excess. Heat an deep ovenproof pan or Dutch oven, add a splash of olive oil, and fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over. Set aside.
- Add the sliced garlic and fry until golden brown, then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pa. Add the chicken pieces and reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness layer of foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1½ hours.
- Remove chicken parts with tongs to a cutting board and strip meat from bones with a fork or knife (it should come away quite easily).
- Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, return chicken to pot and stir. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and serve.