Chicken a la cacciatore

Chicken a la cacciatore

Dean Cambray

Cacciatore means ‘hunter’ in Italian, and the story goes that this tasty one-pot dish used to be made for the hunter to eat on his return from a hard day out in the forests and fields – using the spoils of his endeavours. It’s often made using rabbit instead of chicken, and in my house we consider it the perfect dish for using up all those vegies that have been sitting in the crisper for a few days and may not be quite at the peak of perfection! And while I use sweet paprika here, to vary the flavour you could also use the wonderfully pungent Spanish smoked paprika.

This is a rustic dish and is best put straight onto the table so that everyone can help themselves. Serve with lots of crusty bread and a full-flavoured red wine.


Quantity Ingredient
2.4kg free-range chicken, jointed
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons thyme, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for frying
2 red peppers
4 anchovies
2 red onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
100g black olives, pitted
3 large field mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
6 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups red wine
1 cup chicken stock or water
3 cups tomato purée or tomato passata
1/4 cup parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss well so that they are evenly coated.
  3. Heat a large, heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat and add just enough oil to cover the base. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken in batches, so that the heat stays high. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a plate and keep warm.
  4. Halve the peppers lengthwise and rub them all over with a little more of the olive oil. Grill, skin-side up, until black and charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and slice away the seeds and pith. Chop roughly and place in a blender. Blitz on high to form a rough purée.
  5. Add another splash of oil to the casserole and heat until it starts to sizzle. Add the anchovies, and using a wooden spoon, stir over a medium heat until they begin to disintegrate. Add the onions to the pot and sauté until they soften. Add the pepper pureé to the casserole with the garlic, bay leaves, olives, mushrooms and carrots and sauté for 3–4 minutes. Add the herbs – I like to tie them together with a piece of string, so I can fish them out at the end – then the red wine, stock and tomato purée. Season again to taste, then stir everything together well and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Cover the casserole with a lid or aluminium foil, and bake in the oven for 2 hours. The vegetables should all cook down to a lovely rich, tomatoey sauce, and the chicken itself should fall from the bone easily.
  7. When ready to eat, whip out the bundle of herbs, scatter on the parsley, and take to the table to serve.
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