Saturday, January 06, 2024

Italian Hunters Chicken Stew

Just imagine yourself out in the woods, someplace in Italy. It's a frigid January evening and you and your hunting companions have bagged yourselves a brace of some kind of wild fowl. While you were kneeling behind shrubbery under an oak tree, you noticed that there were mushrooms and later, in a meadow, wild parsley growing. Various members of the group had brought some tomatoes, an onion, some olive oil, salt and pepper and a pot with lid. Of course all of you had sharp knives.

After the fire had gotten going and the most intrepid of you had cleaned and cut up the poultry, the designated cook for the evening put together a delicious hunters stew using what was available. Maybe it was the company, maybe it was the alcoholic beverage consumed as you waited for the chicken to stew, maybe it was the fresh air and freedom, but you were certain that you had never tasted a better stew!

Fortunately, we don't have to cook out of doors to have a delicious Hunter's Chicken Stew. We can make it in the kitchen and the simple ingredients allow us to put it all together fairly quickly and then into the oven for about 40 minutes to stew.

You start by browning the chicken in a tiny bit of olive oil. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but a cut up whole chicken or a mixture of parts, with skin or without work well, too.

After you remove the browned chicken from the pan, you sort of stir-fry the thinly sliced onions quickly. Once those are removed, you add a bit more olive oil and brown the mushrooms. A can of diced tomatoes and juice get added. The acid in the tomato juice allows you to scrape up the browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, adding great flavor to the stew juices.

Everything goes back into the pan after you've added salt and pepper to taste. Then you sprinkle on a good amount of Italian parsley, cover the pan and into the oven it goes. Much easier than the time the hunters had! When it's finished, you have a wonderful pan of tender, falling-of-the-bone (if you used chicken with bones) flavorful chicken, plus a savory pan sauce to enjoy.

Serve this up with something that will soak up the juices...polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, or chunks of crusty bread. A green salad on the side is about all you need to have a wonderful meal. Still have things to do? That's can leave the pan in the turned-off oven for up to an hour more before serving.

Chicken Cacciatore
Based on a recipe from Women’s Day 12-14-82

1 chicken, cut up (I used 7 chicken thighs)
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 16 oz. can tomatoes, cut up
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

salt & pepper to taste & olive oil for the bottom of the pan & an oven-proof pan

Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large, heavy ovenproof skillet, over medium heat, brown chicken in hot oil. (I use just enough oil to coat the pan bottom to keep the chicken from sticking. If you have a large, heavy ovenproof non-stick skillet, you don’t even need the oil.)
Add the onion; cook about 3 minutes, stirring, until the onion is crispy-tender. Remove and put with the browned chicken. Add another tablespoon olive oil and the sliced mushrooms. Stir to coat, cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove pan from the heat. Stir in the tomatoes and pepper. Add back the chicken and onions. Sprinkle with the parsley. Cover the pan.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F. oven for about 40 minutes, or until tender.
Serve, or stand in turned off oven up to 1 hour.
Serves 4-6.

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