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A Rustic, Italian Classic to Kick Off 2021

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Laura kindly opened up her kitchen for our first Live Cooking Demo of 2021 last weekend to share her recipe for Pollo alla Cacciatora, one of the classic dishes she teaches quite often in her Tuscan cooking classes. What might seem like a dish requiring a complicated preparation due to the intensity and beautiful combination of flavors is in fact quite simple with just a few steps.
 
There are various origin stories around Pollo alla Cacciatora and the name, as well as numerous regional variations. Alla Cacciatora refers to preparing a dish “hunter’s style” with herbs like rosemary, garlic and sometimes with wine and in its more rustic form, you’ll find this also made with more wild game like rabbit (Coniglio alla Cacciatora).
 
Some cooks prefer a more saucy Cacciatora with a lot of tomatoes but Laura is a little more restrained so you get the aroma and some of the zangy acidity from the tomatoes but they are not the predominant flavor. We cannot say the same for her use of black olives, which she loves and incorporates in abundance!

A key step in preparing this dish is braising your bird in a frying pan to keep its meat juicy and tender, and to start to create the base for the sauce. Laura’s recipe calls for cherry tomatoes but other types will do depending on what’s in season. If the tomatoes are a little larger, you’ll want to quarter them instead of halving them.

There are number of vegetable sides that will go well with this dish. Last Saturday, Laura cooked up a sweet and savory side of caramelized peppers. She learned to perfectly caramelize peppers from a lovely lady named Liliana, hence her recipe is called Peperoni alla Signora Liliana. 
 
As always, you can watch the video of Laura's Cooking Demo on our Facebook page.

Recommended Wine Pairing: Our more medium-bodied L’aura Chianti Classico is the ideal pairing. However, you could also enjoy this flavorful poultry dish with the Sei Chianti Classico Gran Selezione or Podalirio Merlot if you’re in the mood for a more fuller-bodied red. 

POLLO ALLA CACCIATORA – Serves 6
1 whole rooster or chicken (skin-on & jointed)
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme
3 bay leaves
4-5 cherry tomatoes
5 juniper berries
150 g black olives
Olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 glass red wine
Broth as needed (meat-based) 
Salt & pepper

  1. Cut the rooster or chicken into large pieces at the joints – this is called “jointing” your bird and you can always ask your butcher to do it. Laura recommends putting a cut down the center of the legs to better cook this part of the bird.
  2. Add your rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, juniper berries, a pinch of salt and pepper and your garlic clove (skin removed) to a food processor and pulse until you have a nice herb mixture (about 4 tbsp in total).
  3. Take the legs, thighs, breast and wings only and add drizzle with the olive oil and take your herb mixture and massage the bird.
  4. Put the pieces of the bird into a frying pan and start to cook on a high heat. When the pieces start to change color and brown a little, add the glass of red wine.
  5. Half your olives and the tomatoes.
  6. Wait until the wine evaporates and then add the sliced olives and the tomatoes.
  7. Add broth as needed and continue to cook slowly on a medium heat for around 30-40 minutes.
  8. When the bird is fully cooked (no pink inside) and the ingredients are nicely combined and flavorful, plate and be sure to spoon a good deal of sauce on top. 

PEPERONI ALLA SIGNORA LILIANA – Serves 6
3 peppers (yellow & red)
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp white sugar (1 tbsp/pepper)
1/3 cup vinegar (red or white wine)

  1. Clean and cut the peppers into thin, long slices.
  2. Put the oil in a large pan and add the peppers and cook on a medium heat until they start to cook through and get a little charred around the edges.
  3. Add the white sugar to the pan and continue to cook until the skins of the peppers start to wrinkle. Then add the vinegar.
  4. Continue to cook until the peppers begin to caramelize and the vinegar evaporates.
  5. Serve hot or cold, as desired. 

BUON APPETITO!
 

 

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