Since I posted the recipe for “Grandma’s Chicken Cacciatore” a month or so ago, I have been haunted by the fact that my Grandmother’s (Little Nonni) recipe is really not the traditional way this dish was made. My other Grandmother (Big Nonni) made it in a much different manner. Actually, my memory of her making this dish is of her, as always dressed to the nines, bejeweled and make up on, instructing her spinster daughter on what to do. She would stir the pan every so often just to remind us (and her daughter) that this was HER dish. Oh how they would argue! It was always delicious, and the aroma of it cooking made your mouth water. However, in my house growing up, as well as in my own kitchen, it was only Little Nonni’s version that was made. I had to really dig deep into my memory bank to remember the ingredients she used, as well as consult with several family members. After several trials (without make up and in sweat pants), I think I finally have come up with something that is as close to hers as possible. Chicken Cacciatore is what is considered to be a peasant dish. I believe the reason for so many different recipes for it is that the cook used whatever ingredients she had in abundance. If there wasn’t enough chicken to go around, she would just throw on more peppers and mushrooms to stretch the meal. You can do the same. And if you want this dish to have more panache, put on your finest outfit, jewelry and don’t forget your make up!
I would love to hear which recipe you prefer.
One 3 to 4 pound chicken, cut into pieces
4 TBSP olive oil
One large onion, sliced
2 to 3 green or red peppers, thickly slicked
4 cloves of garlic, sliced or smashed
2 cups mushroom, thickly sliced
4-5 Italian plum tomatoes, from the can, squished
3/4 cup white wine
1 lemon, freshly squeezed juice
2 TBSP oregano
3 TBSP rosemary, fresh is always better
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season with salt. Heat 2 TBSP of the olive in a large, heavy frying pan. Brown chicken well on all sides and remove to platter. Add the rest of the olive oil and heat. Then add the onions and cook for several minutes until soft. Now add the garlic, peppers, mushrooms and salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for 5 to minutes. Add the wine,tomatoes, oregano and rosemary. Then put the chicken back in the pan and cover for 5 to 10 minutes. Cover off and cook on low heat for 35 minutes of so, until everything looks cooked through and tender. Add the lemon juice right before it is done and heat through. Should it dry out while cooking, you can always add more wine(my choice always!) or a little water.
Please don’t forget to stir occasionally, just as Big Nonni did.