Bob's Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
“Where are the tomatoes?” That was my thought, when in 1998 I first ate coniglio alla cacciatore (rabbit hunter’s style) at Hostaria da Nerone, up the hill from the Roman Colosseum. I had often had chicken cacciatore and it had always included tomatoes. It turned out that what the owners Santis and Adelaide from Abruzzo were serving was a traditional down-home version (with vinegar and no tomatoes). Adelaide, who was also the cook, was kind enough to give me the recipe: three sentences in Italian on a scrap of paper, without any amounts. I’ve included a photo of this much-used treasure. I’ve cooked the dish many times with rabbit and have adapted it for this simple and delicious chicken recipe.
3 T extra-virgin olive oil + 1 T regular olive oil or vegetable oil (This helps to keep the extra-virgin olive oil from burning.)
chicken, 6-8 pieces (I use legs and thighs but you can use whatever you like.)
salt, lightly, since the anchovies add salt
2 med cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
* 3 sprigs (3-4” long) of fresh rosemary
4 anchovy filets, packed in oil, coarsely chopped (Some of you may grimace at this ingredient, but trust me: it adds depth of flavor and you won’t even know it’s there.)
½ c dry white wine
4 T red-wine vinegar
*Try to use fresh rosemary. Since it isn’t always available, you can use dried; however, the responsibility is on you since I’ve never done that. Generally, the proportion of fresh herbs to dried is 3: 1. So, if a sprig is equal to 1 T and this recipe calls for 3 sprigs, that’s 3 T fresh or 1 T dried. Let me know how it goes.
Heat the oil in a skillet with a lid, then thoroughly brown the chicken on all sides. Add the garlic, rosemary (make sure this gets into the oil) and anchovies; let sizzle for a minute or so. Add the wine and the vinegar; cover and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Turn the pieces and check the sauce from time to time. If the sauce is becoming too thick or sticking, add some chicken broth (preferably, low sodium) or water and continue to cook. The chicken is done when it’s nearly falling on the bone.
This dish calls for some crusty Italian bread.