This recipe is based on a classic Italian dish, Pollo alla cacciatora (literally ‘chicken in the style of the hunter’).
But I’ve played God and renamed it because:
a) although ‘hunters’ style’ usually includes tomatoes and onions, I really don’t see why that should be the case – if it included rabbit* or pheasant or deer I could understand; and
b) the main player here, especially because it reappears in the salad (see separate post – crunchy-mashy olive-pervade salad) is the black olives… which are usually from Greece, and the dried oregano is also rather greek…nothing really Italian about this at all in fact.
Additionally Pollo alla cacciatora doesn’t usually come with potatoes included, but I’ve included them because it gives them lots of time to absorb the vermouth/tomato juices, and also because Life’s Too Short to do them separately.
The key to the salad is the use of the olive infused oil, so you need to make this ideally a week or so before (I keep a big jar constantly on the go), and then use the olives with the chicken. I usually have a big jar just always available. Go here for the recipe. If you don’t have time to do this use olives in sunflower oil and drain them in the usual way.
Inspector Montalbano and rabbit cacciatore
*In fact, one of my greatest heroes, Inspector Salvo Montalbano, is very keen on rabbit cacciatore – well, he’s very keen on good food in general.
“Adelina had made him pasta nasciata and, as a second course, rabbit alla cacciatore. She very rarely made this, but whenever she did, it brought tears of happiness to his eyes”
-Andrea Camilleri, Il campo del vassaio (the potter’s field)
To make this, simply get your butcher to carve a rabbit into four large chunks, WITHOUT bones (the problem with rabbit is all the small bones), and substitute for the chicken pieces below.
Recipe for chicken cacciatore
- 200g chorizo, chopped
- 2 chicken quarters or 4 chicken thighs
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 150g waxy salad potatoes (Maris Piper or Charlotte), cut into wedges
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tbsp of capers (NOT the type in brine – leave out if those are the only kind you can find)
- 2 tsp dried Greek oregano
- 1 can chopped tomatoes (don’t get the chopped ones – with whole you have the chance to cut large pieces, also I suspect the tomatoes in the chopped tins are less good quality. in a recent taste test Lidl tomatoes came first with a startling nine out of ten; second place was a tie between Waitrose, Tesco and Asda at six out of ten; last with a shameful three out of ten was Sainsburys)
- ½ teasp anchovy essence or Patum Peperium (Gentleman’s Relish)
- 70-100g pitted black greek olives – either in brine (weight once drained – a standard tin will do) or dry
- 60ml/¼ cup dry rosato vermouth (pink Martini)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Indonesian long pepper
- Heat the oven to 180ºC.
- Fry the chorizo, remove and keep warm in an ovenproof dish (you might want to serve this at the table).
- Rub the chicken with the olive oil and some pepper and brown, add to the chorizo.
- Fry the onions and potatoes for about five minutes.
- Add the garlic and the oregano, cook a minute or so longer, add to the dish.
- Mix the tomatoes, anchovy essence and vermouth and pour over the dish.
- Cover with foil.
- Put in the oven for about half an hour.
- Take the olives out of the oil, and scatter them over the dish.
- Bake for another 15 minutes.
- Serve – maybe with a bit more dried oregano sprinkled over the top.
© 2014 Saucy Dressings
For a taste (sic) of what the terrific Montalbano series is like see below, the books are also excellent as is the new television series ‘young Montalbano’: