Hunter's-Style Chicken with Rosemary
Pollo Alla Cacciatora

serves: 6 servings

Pollo alla cacciatore is served in many regions of Italy but when you see lots of fresh rosemary and tomatoes it is a dead giveaway-you know it is from Tuscany. And in this case the dish is typical of Maremma, straightforward and elementary, with nothing more than good chicken, good tomatoes and fresh rosemary to make it delicious. It is a dish that ought to be done in advance as it gets better as it sits. Delicious served as is with just some crusty bread I especially love it with polenta. And when it is too hot to cook polenta some tubular pasta like rigatoni will do just fine. If you have some left over, just pluck the meat off the bones and save it for another meal to dress pasta or make a risotto with it.

4 pound organic chicken, cut in 8 or 10 pieces
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, with lots of needled
½ teaspoon peperoncino, or to taste
4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand


Rinse the chicken and pat the pieces dry. Season all over with 1 teaspoon salt.

Pour the olive oil in the big pan and set over medium-high heat. Lay chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down, to brown for 2-3 minutes. Turn them over and brown another 2-3 minutes. Scatter the sliced garlic into the hot fat, in between the chicken pieces, drop in the rosemary stems, and sprinkle the peperoncino over.

Keep turning the chicken pieces until they're nicely browned all over, 10 minutes or so, then pour in the tomatoes. Slosh the tomato can with a cup of water and pour that in too. Sprinkle over another 1/2 teaspoon salt, raise the heat and turn and stir the chicken in the tomato juices as they come to a boil.

Cover the pan, leaving a crack open, adjust the heat to maintain a steady bubbling in the pan and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning the chicken. Remove the cover and cook another 20 minutes or more until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the tomato sauce is slightly reduced but still loose.

Serve right away or let the chicken cool in the sauce to reheat later.