This winter I took a part-time job at Williams Sonoma, entirely for the employee discount. The very first thing I bought was a set of All-Clad d5 pans, and it came with a book called Essentials of Classic Cooking by Marcella Hazan (and also a nice lasagna pan and some oven mitts). I assumed at first it was just some crap you get when you buy a set of pans, but I took a second to look up the reviews on Amazon and found that it was exactly the book I’d been looking for, a compendium of Italian recipes. I’d thumbed through Amazon looking for such a beast and somehow had missed it, in fact hadn’t found anything close, and here it had just fallen into my lap.
While not the first recipe I made from it (that was the Bolognese sauce, which I’ll post as soon as I make again and snap some pics) Chicken Cacciatora was probably the one I was most excited for. I like a good Cacciatora, but the only time I see it on the menu is the once every year or two I find myself at somewhere like an Olive Garden and it’s rarely worth eating. I knew homemade had to be much better.
The prep work was quite simple. I had my butcher break the chicken down into 6 pieces. I thinly sliced a bell pepper, then ran a carrot, half a stalk of celery, and about half of an onion through a mandoline slicer. Dice up a little garlic, measure out some wine and a can of tomatoes and you’re ready to go.
The first step is to coat the chicken in flour and brown in vegetable oil.
After that’s done you’re left with a light roux to cook the onion in. Once the onion is gold, you add in the wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc, as usual) and deglaze.
Finally, you put the chicken back in . The recipe calls for keeping the breasts until 10 minutes before serving but mine were enormous and I didn’t brown them too deeply so I put them in about halfway through. Then I tossed in the vegetables and tomatoes, brought to a slow simmer, and covered. The pieces simmered for about an hour (the breasts for less) during which time I turned them and basted with the juices.
The result is a fantastic dish that’s not really quick to make (it takes maybe an hour and a half with prep) but isn’t difficult either and only uses one pan. It’s got lots of simmer time toward the end which gives you ample opportunity to make a side dish, though I’m not sure what you’d want to serve there.