“Pollo alla Cacciatora” is a recipe for cooking chicken “the hunter’s way” and is a very traditional dish, which would have been eaten typically of a Sunday.
If you think about it, however, ‘Hunter’s chicken’ seems to be a bit of a misnomer … I mean, after all, people didn’t go ‘hunting’ for chickens, did they? They were kept in coops or were allowed to range freely in the chicken yard.
So my guess is that the hunter’s original recipe for cooking a rabbit or hare – which indeed had to be chased after and hunted down -turned out to be so good that people thought: “Why not cook chicken that way too”? Why not indeed?
Recipes for “pollo alla cacciatora” usually call for a tomato sauce — everywhere except for in Rome. Now, could that be because ‘alla cacciatora’ is such an old recipe that it predates even the arrival of tomatoes in Italy? (If you consult the history of the tomato on http://www.kybelem.com/tomato.html, you’ll see that this wonderful vegetable did not form part of the Italian cuisine until the late 19th century.)
As I wrote in a blog in October 2010: “Alla cacciatora” chez the Romans means the use of vinegar, garlic, anchovies and rosemary – and you can cook chicken pieces this way too.”
So : on with pollo alla cacciatora, the Roman way.
Optional: Anchovies …
Here is a dazzling plate of salted anchovies … you may not want to use anchovies because you think they are going to taste very strongly. But if you think of them as taste enhancers, I hope to presume to change your mind. Anchovies, whether they are preserved in oil or salt, will dissolve with cooking and become part of the sauce, adding to the depth of its flavour.
I chopped off the head and tail of two anchovies preserved in salt and washed them in plenty of cold running water, to get rid of the salt. Then I butterflied them open and removed the wee skeleton running down the middle.
Here are the rest of the ingredients: olive oil, chopped up chicken pieces with the skin left on, some vinegar and red wine (mixed up together in the glass jar on the right – 2 parts wine to 1 part vinegar), garlic and rosemary.
Roughly chop up 3 cloves of garlic (more if you prefer), add olive oil and start browning the chicken pieces. If you are cooking a lot of chicken, it’s best to do this in batches and put all the chicken pieces together at the end.