This Italian hunter’s stew puts a handful of Mediterranean ingredients to work alongside chicken or, sometimes, rabbit. Slow-braising the vegetables and chicken in a wine- and tomato-enriched sauce is a beautifully simple way to get the best out of familiar ingredients that you might already have in the fridge. It makes for a very comforting dinner.
Falling-apart chicken cacciatore
I love the coriander seeds rubbed into the chicken skin, but leave them out if you’re a stickler for authenticity.
Prep 20 min
Cook 50 min
4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp coriander seeds (optional)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, stem, seeds and pith removed, flesh cut into thin strips
1 green pepper, stem, seeds and pith removed, flesh cut into thin strips
2 red onions, halved, peeled and finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, outer leaves removed, the rest finely sliced (or 3 sticks celery, finely sliced)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 handful fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
240ml white wine
500g very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Generously season the chicken. If you are using the coriander seeds, grind them in a mortar or spice grinder and rub all over the chicken with a tablespoon of the olive oil. You can do this the night before or an hour ahead, but either way bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking.
Put a casserole or large, deep-sided frying pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, lay in the chicken legs skin side down, and brown for five to six minutes. Turn over, fry for a few minutes until golden all over, then transfer to a plate.
Pour the rest of the oil into the pan, followed by the onions, peppers and fennel, season generously and cook on a medium to medium-high heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes, so the vegetables collapse without colouring. Add the garlic and oregano, cook for a few minutes more, then add the wine, turn the heat right up and simmer briskly for a few minutes. Finally, stir in the chopped tomatoes.
Put the chicken legs back in the pan, cover with a lid slightly askew and leave to simmer gently for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone and the vegetables have melted into a syrupy, silky mess. Serve with rice or boiled potatoes to soak up the sauce.
The simple flex
This sauce is delicious with chunks of potato simmered in it instead of chicken. Dot the finished braise with mozzarella and bake it for a final 10 minutes for a sumptuous, vegetarian supper.