Cacciatora stew is one of those simple dishes which comfort you, above all if served with mashed potatoes on a cold winter day.
It is an incredibly rich and simple dish, the result is an amazing sauce in which you can plunge bread and collect it in the famous “scarpetta”. It is a gesture not be made in a restaurant, still the most of us would not resist the temptation. It is almost a moral obligation, none could waste such a treasure.
With some variations, this Tuscan dish is loved and prepared in all Italy. Some cooks add olives, they use dry white wine and no tomato, probably the version I am proposing is revised compared to it. Tomatoes appeared on the tables of Central and Northern Italy quite late, only in the second half of the nineteenth century, I guess that this addition was made more recently.
For the white version, follow the same recipe replacing the red wine with a dry white one and do not add tomato. Some also add pitted olives half an hour before the end of the cooking process.
The same recipe is used for the rabbit too, and the result is always excellent.
It is those of these dishes that represents Italy at its best: Mediterranean herbs, vegetables, wine. The frequent use of wine allows us to use fewer fats and keeping the meat or fish moist. In the meanwhile, it enhances the taste of the seasoning, letting us to use less salt.
- 1 medium-size chicken, chopped in small pieces
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 oz. fresh pancetta, chopped in cubes
- 3 tablespoons EVO oil
- ½ cup red wine
To cook, brown the chicken pieces in a heavy pot with the oil. Once the meat is brown, add the vegetables, pancetta, and herbs. Make the chicken simmer, cover with a lid.
Cook until the vegetables are golden, then add the wine and season the meat. It is important to add salt and pepper with the wine because it enhances the tastes and you use less salt.
Wait until the wine has completely evaporated in order to add the tomato puree. Cook for a couple of hours, adding some water or stock if needed.